Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills

"Excellent"

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills Review


Paradise Lost is a haunting and tragic documentary about three Arkansas teens enamored with wicca and paganism, who find themselves headed for death row and/or life in prison after three local pre-teens are mysteriously murdered and mutilated. Fingers are pointed, blame is laid, but the only apparent truth to come out of the film is that the three kids doing time are almost undoubtedly not the ones responsible for the murders. Why are they convicted? It's a long story, but one of the three accused kids has a very low IQ and was -- possibly -- coerced into a confession, dragging his friends along with him. It doesn't help that they have long hair and listen to Metallica.

Famous documentarians Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky obtain amazing access to all sides of the case throughout the trials, getting up close and personal with the accused, their families, the local law enforcement, the parents of the victims, and pretty much everyone else in the small Arkansas town -- which almost unilaterally has judged them guilty as hell.

The film's depiction of justice gone wrong is one thing, but the film's biggest horror is probably seen in the lucid Mark Byers, the father of one of the murdered boys. His story is tragic, to be sure, but when he tells the filmmakers how he's going to spit on the graves of the accused -- not to mention the "other bodily functions" he says he will undoubtedly be feeling the urges to do. Later he goes target shooting at a pumpkin in the back country, offering a running commentary wherein he imagines he's firing at the accused children. Even later, he's fingered as a possible -- even likely -- suspect in the murders, though nothing really comes of this.

Many films like this have a tendency to run long -- and at 2 1/2 hours, Paradise Lost is no exception. Some of the scenes have a tendency to repeat older information, and it doesn't help that the film has to cover two separate trials when the cases are split.

Still, it's a powerful movie with an even more powerful message: Never get arrested in the south.

The film's subject matter was revisited five years later in a sequel, which, if you find this story intriguing, you really ought to check out as well. The recent film The Staircase is also frighteningly similar in tone.

The new DVD, released over 10 years after the film's release, includes some recent updates (nothing much to report aside from material seen in Paradise Lost 2), and additional footage from the trials.



Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills

Facts and Figures

Run time: 150 mins

In Theaters: Monday 10th June 1996

Distributed by: Docurama

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 25

IMDB: 8.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Himself (voice), as Himself (voice), as Himself, as Himself, as Himself

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