third and final (one must assume) installment of documentaries covering the west memphis three and the child murders at robin hood hills.
the first 30 minutes or so is basically unnecessary for those of us who have seen the first two installments. i’d like to see a version that is combined into one film, in two parts, that cuts out all the redundancies. once you get past the recap portion of the film, though, this is a great cap to the story and the trilogy of films. when watched along with the staircase and into the abyss (which i watched a few months ago), you get a pretty interesting glimpse into the criminal justice system in this country. these films do well when watched together.
certain themes and motifs consistently arise. like the women who are drawn to these guys on death row or life imprisonment. i’ve worked with one of them before, actually. basically they come off as normal people on the whole, but i guess there’s just one part of them that desires a man who can’t hurt them, but is dangerous at the same time? or maybe they’re ultra jealous and want their man to be locked up? who knows. i know that scott peterson is extremely popular and i find that extremely creepy. pop psychology aside, there are other similarities between all these films.
you see how quickly truth not only becomes muddled, but also how quickly it becomes secondary to the rest of the circus. these high profile murder cases become their own subcultures. you have mr. byers who is probably the most colorful character in the three films who goes from grieving stepfather (paradise lost 1) to nutty potential murderer (paradise lost 2) to possibly the most reasonable guy in the circus (paradise lost 3). by the end of the film you have the alleged murders who have always looked the part, but always said they were innocent (except miskelley’s one-time confession under pressure) finally say that they are guilty. once they admit guilt they are let free by the state, after 17 years in prison. make sense? it’s called an alford plea which is one of those things that can only exist in a system devoid of real common sense. maybe it makes sense to some philosopher, but i’m a simple guy so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. essentially, in order for the convicted murderers to finally be set free they must admit that they committed the crime. this allows the state to not admit any wrongdoing, avoid being sued, etc. it also allows the convicted (and now admitted) murderers to be set free into society. basically, the state knew that they were going to get off because of dna evidence (actually lack thereof) as well as other new evidence, so they let the guys go…after 17 years of wrongful (in my mind) incarceration. brilliant system.
the whole thing is so bizarre and twisted. there are all these little subplots and interesting sidebars and secondary characters. meanwhile we have three innocent men who have had their lives basically ruined and three innocent boys who were murdered a long time ago and are always in the background, forgotten.
this installment is the cherry on top and its grade is indicative of the trilogy, rather than just the last film.