We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Three young men spent 18 years in prison, one under a death sentence, for a horrifying triple murder they clearly did not commit. The apparent killer is still walking the streets of West Memphis, Ark. The documentary "West of Memphis" is the fourth film about one of the most heinous cases of wrongful conviction in American judicial history.
Do we need a fourth film? Yes, I think we do. If you only see one of them, this is the one to choose, because it has the benefit of hindsight. Here is the bottom line: In 1993, the bodies of three young boys were found bound, mutilated and drowned in a drainage canal in the Robin Hood Hills neighborhood of West Memphis. A month later, three local teenagers were linked to the crime after one of them confessed; the prosecution claimed it was a satanic cult murder.
This charge was seized upon by local residents, and some of the evidence seemed to fit. Also, the suspects were described as "weird" heavy metal fans who often wore black. The community seemed convinced of their guilt.
Amy Berg's "West of Memphis" opens with a great deal of footage that is shockingly detailed and grisly, with gruesome descriptions. It's so graphic it's hard to watch. These accounts of the murders were connected by the prosecution to the defendants, Jessie Misskelley, Jr., 17; Jason Baldwin, 16, and Damien Echols, 18, regarded as the group's leader. After Misskelley described the killings in a long, rambling confession that took up a full day, Echols was the only one charged with first-degree murder.