Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.
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.Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
First feature film to contain licensed music of Metallica. The band was involved in raising public awareness of the accused. See more »
Damien reads this Shakespearean quote while on trial: "Life's but a walking shadow...full of sound and fury signifying nothing." He incorrectly refers to it as being from A Midsummer Night's Dream. It is fact a soliloquy famously from Macbeth. See more »
John Mark Byers:
'Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.' And I'm not scared of the devil. I know who my comforter is. 'Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me.' And I thank you, Lord for letting me be able to believe in that with all my heart. I hope y'all really believe in your master the Satan, Sleuthfoot, devil himself, 'cause he's not gonna help you. He's gonna laugh at you, mock at you, and torture you... they prayed to Satan... And they had their satanic worship ...
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Despite all the praise this documentary has received, I did not find it very moving at all. Granted, it was a horrible crime, and the footage of the three young victims' bodies was shocking and almost unwatchable. But most of this film serves only to expose the extreme incompetence of everyone involved in the case. With regard to the wrongly(?) accused boys -- never have I seen three innocent people put up such a weak, pathetic fight for their innocence. Most of the time, they stare doe-eyed and slack-jawed in front of the camera, seemingly uninterested in their own fates. Sure, these boys were only 16-17 years old and very scared, but they seem to have no intuition for survival whatsoever in this life-or-death situation. Any realistic grasp of the situation eludes these boys completely -- they behave almost as if they're playing a part in a movie. It is quite possible, and perhaps even probable, that they are indeed innocent, but they themselves do not seem to care, and so dear viewer, why should you? The overwhelming impression I get from these boys is that they lead very boring lives in a very stagnant town, and they know that this whole case is the most exciting thing that will ever happen to them. They seem interested not in the issue of their guilt or innocence, but rather in the surreal quality of their quasi-celebrity (in the end, Damien waxes romantic over the notion that his name will become famous in West Memphis as a synonym for "bogeyman", scaring generations of children to come). They are genuinely pleased with all of the attention they're receiving -- not that they have much to say, but they're just happy that someone is asking.
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