Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills

Year: 
1996
Genre: 
Documentary
Director: 
Joe Berlinger
Bruce Sinofsky
Actor(s): 
Joe Berlinger
Bruce Sinofsky
Runtime: 
150
Review: 

Morbid, terrifying, WRONG.

This is the first documentary that I have ever reviewed - and I review it not from an entertainment standpoint, because this will not entertain you. It will scare you that there can be such evil inside a human being to do what was done to these children, and I don't just mean the three eight year olds that were murdered - I am also talking about the teenagers that were convicted of the crime. It terrifies me to think of the possibility of how corrupt our justice system may be and how easily these boys were railroaded into life in prison, and for one, death by lethal injection.

The film starts out with actual footage of death scene, those poor little broken bodies laying there on the creek bank. I almost cried the first time that I saw it. It's not for the faint of heart. In the background, Metallica's Sanitarium plays, ironic, yet fitting at the same time. The film goes on immediately to news footage and the arrest of three teenage boys, and their subsequent convictions on the flimsiest of evidence. I won't go through the twists and turns, I'll leave it to you to view and decide.

I'm sure it has happened before. I can see it happening again. And it scares me to the core. On one hand, I am almost to the point in my life where it's baby time. The thought of some psycho harming my child keeps me up at night now, and I don't even have children. On the other hand, I am more scared of a world where my child could be convicted of a crime he possibly did not commit.

I grew up in a place like West Memphis - Waller, Texas. It was a small town, a church on every corner and a local chapter of the Klan. Opinions barely existed there. When I was in High School, I ran with what authority thought were 'the metalheads, the potheads, the losers'. Fuck that, they were my friends. Even though I was an honor student, I chose to hang out with the wild crowd. So? It never affected my grades, I never got in trouble (much) and I went straight to college on a full scholarship when I graduated...so what? We wore all black, listened to Metallica and Dead Horse and everyone in town thought we were satanists, me included. Hah! I was there, I lived in that environment, it could have happened - HELL, it almost did happen. After I moved away to college, a little girl disappeared in my hometown. They had house to house searches, and after a few days, they found her dead and raped in the attic of some guy.

This guy was the uncle of my friend of mine.

I think he was even living there at the time. According to my ex - they got high under that dead body every day for a week, and it creeped him out. He seemed baffled by the whole thing. But they got hassled by the cops, grilled for some kind of involvement. Thankfully, nothing ever happened to them, my friend's uncle got the death penalty and I guess he is still there. My point is, if you are a teenager wearing black, that's it, the cops have you pegged as a kid-killing satanist, you might as well pack your bags for Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison.

I'm not just here, jumping on the celebrity bandwagon. Eddie Vedder can always be seen wearing a West Memphis Three T-shirt. Trey Parker and Matt Stone even yelled "Free the West Memphis Three!" at the MTV Movie Awards. There's even a celebrity benefit CD out. But do they really care, or is this just the cause of the month for them?

I guess it is possible that they did it. Anything is possible on this fucked up planet. But after seeing John Mark Byers, the step-father of one the victims, rant and rave and blow away pumpkins, I'd put my bets on him. I guess we'll never know the truth behind what happened - and do the parents sleep better at night, just because someone - anyone - is in jail? I wouldn't.