Talk about a real life Witch hunt..
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)
Directed By: Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
With the recent release of The West Memphis 3, I figured now was as good of a time as any to finally get around to watching the documentary over the whole thing, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills. Made by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, who were no strangers to this type of film, what would come is an almost surreal look at this real life event. The old saying goes, you are innocent until proven guilty. But in this film we see that the very small town we visit here have it backwards. As a result, it’s more along the lines of “guilty until proven innocent”. And as we quickly learn from this film, these people weren’t interested in using real honest to goodness evidence at all.
Berlinger and Sinofsky’s documentary of a gruesome triple murder in West Memphis, Arkansas and the subsequent trials of three suspects, takes a hard look at both the occult and the American justice system in ‘small-town’ America. Three teenagers are accused of this horrific crime of killing three children, supposedly as a result of involvement in Satanism. As in their previous documentary, things turn out to be more complex than initial appearances and this film presents the real-life courtroom drama to the viewer, as it unfolds.
To be 100% honest with you, this film comes off way more animated and full of more personalities than any fake documentary you could see. And the frightening thing about this is the fact this isn’t any act, it’s all completely real. That’s just one of the things that make this movie soo compelling. On one hand you feel horrible for the parents that lost their children. That truly is tragic and very hard to see (the film opens with shots of the bodies). Then again, these people do seem to be off their own rockers. Could it be the grief? Who knows, but these people come across at times as just as big a monster as anyone. And it’s even worse when you take into account they are ready to see the three accused fry without any proof.
On the issue of personalities, one of the victims has a stepfather by the name of,
John Mark Byers. This man might be one of the most strangest and charismatic individuals we’ve ever seen documented on film. I’ve watched wrestling since I was old enough to crawl, and this man when talking cuts a hell of a promo. One that could rival any of the all-time great talkers in sports. This man is seen on the screen a lot, and with good reason. Call it what you will, but the man is entertaining. He even goes as far as to give the crew filming a knife that comes back to play a very interesting and bizarre role in the progression of the documentary and court case.
As this drags on, it really is like a modern day Salem Witch trial. And the boys in my opinion do come across as a bit odd, but then again aren’t we all? It just so happens these poor guys were weird in the wrong town, and as a result they are forced to pay a price they should have never paid. We see theories and evidence get even bigger holes than they already had shot right through them, and we still see the mind boggling results after. If you’ve ever wanted to know why soo many people were always going on and on about freeing the West Memphis 3, then you should watch this documentary. I think after you’ve seen it you’ll realize why soo many people for soo long had wanted these guys free.
What you have here is one of the best legit documentaries you’ll ever find. And it even comes with Metallica music, if you are into that sorta thing. It’s a rather long watch, but it’s a really good one. If you haven’t watched this film, I really believe you should. It’s by far one of the more entertaining legit documentary films you can find out there.
The Rating (8/10)