Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Now on Amazon Prime: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)

Paradise Lost the child murders at Robin Hood Hills movie poster
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996) – Directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky.

By Kenny Howell

The first in a trilogy of documentaries on the West Memphis Three, three teenagers that were convicted of killing three boys in a Satanic ritual despite almost no evidence. 

This documentary pretty much kicked off the conversation about this case and gave it national attention. Celebrities like Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder and Henry Rollins got behind the kids and helped try to secure their release over the years. 

The facts of the case are that three little boys were murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas in an area called Robin Hood Hills. Three teenagers, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, and Jason Baldwin, who were from the area that were known for being a bit "weird", basically wearing black T-shirts and listening to heavy metal, were arrested and went to trial. This film covers the trial which is basically a witch hunt. There is no physical evidence against the three teenagers, but the prosecution builds a trial based on what the kids wore, read, and how they acted around the community, none of which really pointed to ritualistic murder. 

Directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky show how fear was rampant throughout the small town and how the prosecution used that repeatedly to put Echols, Misskelley and Baldwin away. Berlinger and Sinofsky added more evidence in a second and third film that point to other people in the community that may have done it. The three boys eventually were released on an unusual plea deal that had them admit their guilt, but were released for served time. That is portrayed in the third film. The events were also turned into a feature film starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth called Devil's Knot

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ****

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