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The Anthrax Attacks: In The Shadow of 9/11: Things To Know Before You Watch The Netflix Documentary

Clark Gregg in The Anthrax Attacks: In the Shadow of 9/11
(Image credit: Netflix)

Just days after the September 11th terrorist attacks, the United States found itself in the middle of yet another deadly attack: the release of letters containing fatal anthrax spores that were sent to various locations through the country. 

Those letters, and the extensive FBI investigation that attempted to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice is the subject of a new Netflix film that brings the story to light more than 20 years after Anthrax sent the country into a frenzy. If you have heard about The Anthrax Attacks: In The Shadow of 9/11 and want to know more about it before you watch, stick around because we’re about to the break down the latest Netflix true crime documentary.

The Anthrax Attacks: In The Shadow Of 9/11 Focuses On Letters Sent To The Media And Politicians In September And October 2001

Between September 18 and October 12, 2001, various letters containing anthrax were sent through the United States Postal Service, injuring a total of 17 people and claiming five victims spread out through Washington, D.C., West Palm Beach, Florida, New York City, and Oxford, Connecticut. The Anthrax Attacks: In the Shadow of 9/11 doesn’t waste time in telling the story within its episode. 

In addition to detailing the members of the media and politicians targeted in the attacks, the documentary also focuses on those caught in the crossfire, namely the USPS employees who handled and processed the tainted mail.

The Anthrax Attacks Is A 95-Minute Documentary Film

A lot of the more recent Netflix true crime documentaries have been split up into multiple episodes and have runtimes of anywhere from a couple of hours to six or more. However, that’s not the case with The Anthrax Attacks: In the Shadow of 9/11 as it is a 95-minute documentary that can easily be started and finished in a single sitting.

The Documentary Spends A Large Amount Of Time Focusing On The FBI’s Prime Suspects

The Anthrax Attacks: In the Shadow of 9/11 doesn’t dedicate a lot of time to the lead-up to the mailing of the tainted letters or the actual attacks, but instead the years-long investigation by the FBI into who made the highly-refined substance in a lab and why they would use it to wreak havoc on the country. The documentary features multiple sections that dive into the potential suspects, why the feds thought they were responsible, and how those investigations affected the various scientists attached to the case.

Clark Gregg Appears In Scripted Segments 

Much like the 2020 documentary The Social Dilemma, The Anthrax Attacks: In the Shadow of 9/11 makes use of scripted portions with well-known actors. This time around, Clark Gregg, who played Agent Phil Coulson in numerous MCU movies, portrays Dr. Bruce Ivins, a microbiologist and biodefense researcher who found himself at the center of the FBI’s extensive investigation. Some of these segments are based on FBI transcripts while others play out like brief monologues between sections of the documentary.

The Documentary Also Features Interviews With FBI Investigators And Victims Of The Anthrax Attacks

Some of the scenes featuring Clark Gregg’s portrayal of Dr. Bruce Ivins are followed up with interviews with the FBI investigators who handled the case all those years ago. On top of that, there are interviews with several of the postal workers who worked at the Washington, D.C. post office that became the epicenter of the attacks. Like the FBI interviews, these segments also shed light on the situation and how it changed their lives more than 20 years ago.

The Anthrax Attacks: In The Shadow Of 9/11 Is Rated TV-MA For Language

As was the case with Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist and other Netflix documentaries in 2022, The Anthrax Attacks: In the Shadow of 9/11 is rated TV-MA for language. No one goes on any long-winded expletive-laden rants, but there are some choice words throughout the 95-minute runtime. The documentary also touches on death and suicide.

If you are interested in checking out The Anthrax Attacks: In the Shadow of 9/11 after reading this, it's available streaming for those with a Netflix subscription

Stream The Anthrax Attacks: In the Shadow of 9/11 on Netflix. (opens in new tab)

Philip Sledge
Content Producer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.