West of Memphis

Rated 3.0

An account of justice delayed, denied and thoroughly disfigured, Amy Berg's documentary reinvestigates the increasingly unwieldy story of the West Memphis Three, that trio of misfit Arkansas teenagers wrongly convicted of murdering three little boys in 1993. We see again how their case became what one participant calls “the first crowd-sourced criminal investigation in history,” with celebrity support from the likes of Eddie Vedder and Henry Rollins, plus Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson in loyal service to Berg as both crusaders and producers. Acknowledging multiple previous documentaries about the same case, Berg's film mounts its own prosecution, first sifting through all the attendant media hysteria, police misconduct and political maneuvering, then pointing an angry finger at one victim's stepfather and calling him the killer. It's compelling evidence, but also deeply unsettling after so thorough a condemnation of false accusations. Giving off the queasy feeling that we'll be awash in bogus-justice documentaries for years to come, this film is an endurance test, but as another participant says, so was the ordeal it depicts.