I saw a documentary the other day. It’s called Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills. It’s been lingering about in my head for two weeks now. Not many movies do that to me. The premise: three children are tortured, raped and murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1993. Three teenage boys (the West Memphis 3) are accused based on the confession made by one of them. The other two deny any involvement. All three are duly prosecuted and facing trial.
There is no evidence.
Or, to put it mildly, the evidence is circumstantial. They wear black. They listen to heavy metal music. They read about the Wicca religion. These things might be considered outlandish in certain communities, but do they actually predispose someone to brutal murder?
The crime scene is a woody area with a small creek running through it. Although the children were mutilated there is no blood. No fingerprints. Not any weapons or tools. DNA analysis is inconclusive. It’s as if the whole affair had been carried out by professional killers. Contrast this with three ignorant and obtuse boys who never saw a book other than the bible (actually, that’s not entirely true, one of them adopted Wicca). Never been out of town. They have been subject to religious indoctrination all their lives. They seek attention. During the trials it seemed to me as though they were enjoying the whole shebang, as well as, at the same time, being completely oblivious to what was going on around them or what was at stake. It’s evident, at least for me, that these guys were not able to perform the abomination of what they were accused.
The parents of the murdered, in a good Christian-like manner, are bloodthirsty. They want to see the alleged perpetrators go down in flames. The genuine hatred radiating off their faces is terrifying. The level of stupidity exhibited by these people is appalling to the average European viewer. You really need to watch it yourself to get a grasp of what I mean.
Two of them are sentenced to life without parole, one of them to death by lethal injection. They accept the sentence with utter indifference. No emotional breakdowns, nothing. They’re not aware of what just happened. They’re led away in bulletproof vests.
You can watch the trailer here. I sat through the whole two and a half hours of the film without stirring once.
Another aspect of the film that drew me in is the extensive use of Metallica’s music. I’ve never listened to Metallica before. I still can’t appreciate the thrashing parts, but when they slow it down, they sound great. Director Joe Berlinger made me want to listen to this album to the left. I later learned that it’s considered one of the greatest heavy metal albums ever. Well, I don’t know about that, but I really enjoyed Welcome Home (Sanitarium) and Orion.