Is 42 Days of Darkness Based on a True Story?

Image Credit: Diego Araya Corvalán/Netflix

Originally titled ‘42 Días en la Oscuridad,’ Netflix’s Chilean thriller series ‘42 Days of Darkness’ centers around the disappearance of Verónica Montes under strange circumstances. Verónica’s sister Cecilia Montes and her lawyer Víctor Pizarro begin their search for Verónica, only to confront the negligence of the law enforcement and the unfavorable presence of the media.

Directed by Gaspar Antillo and Claudia Huaiquimilla, the enthralling show progresses through the challenges Cecilia and Pizarro face to unravel the truth concerning the former’s sister. The highly realistic tone of the series enhances the narrative and makes the viewers wonder whether the show has any real-life connections. Well, here’s everything you need to know about the same!

Is 42 Days of Darkness a True Story?

‘42 Days of Darkness’ is partially based on a true story. The foundation of the narrative, the disappearance of Verónica Montes, is chiefly based on the disappearance and subsequent death of Viviana Haeger. Viviana, the mother of two daughters and the wife of Jaime Anguita, disappeared on June 29, 2010, while she was living with her family in Puerto Varas, Los Lagos Region, Chile. Although the husband had received a phone call that informed him about his wife’s supposed kidnapping on the same day, he ignored the same, assuming it to be a scam.

Image Credit: Diego Araya Corvalán/Netflix

However, Jaime contacted the authorities soon after confirming from one of their daughters that Viviana is indeed missing. The family and the authorities began their search for Viviana but failed to locate her. On August 10, 2010, more than a month later, her body was found by Jaime in the attic of their house. The initial autopsy led the police to theorize that Viviana died by suicide, but the use of herbicide as a poison was considered in a forensic analysis conducted later.

In December 2015, Jose Perez Mancilla, who worked in Jaime’s company, confessed to killing Viviana and divulged he was allegedly hired by the deceased’s husband to do so. Following the confession, Jaime and Mancilla were put in preventive detention. Even though the prosecution requested life imprisonment for Jaime in the trial conducted in 2017, he was eventually acquitted by the court due to a lack of evidence. Mancilla was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which included the 679 days he had spent in preventive detention for robbery with homicide.

In addition, Rodrigo Fluxá’s true-crime book ‘Usted sabe quién: notas sobre el homicidio de Viviana Haeger,’ an account of the murder case, also served as the inspiration for the show’s narrative. The author of the book is a co-writer of the series as well. Although the show depicts significant developments that happened in the investigation of Viviana Haeger’s disappearance and subsequent murder, the directors Gaspar Antillo and Claudia Huaiquimilla had made it clear that they weren’t trying to document the absolute truth concerning the case in their creation.

Jaime Anguita and Viviana Haeger Image Credit: 24 Horas

As far as Antillo and Huaiquimilla are concerned, they state that ‘42 Days of Darkness’ is not outrightly “based” on a true story but only “inspired.” The duo had championed the independent existence of their work in a May 2022 interview. According to the duo, the series is an attempt to explore the consequences of the disappearance of a sister, mother, and daughter. To keep a distance between reality and the show, the writers and directors changed the names of the real-life figures and fictionalized the individuals involved and the events that happened in the real crime.

Through the elements of fiction, Antillo and Huaiquimilla scrutinize the involvement of media, the methods of the police department, and the ways of the judicial system associated with Viviana’s case. In the words of Huaiquimilla, the series aspires to explore much more than the real-life case, like gender violence, by not limiting it to a true-crime account. ‘42 Days of Darkness’ is an impeccable example of how reality and fiction can be combined to create a narrative that offers a greater reflection of the society in which the real-life crime transpired.

Read More: Where is 42 Days of Darkness Filmed?