West of Memphis
IT'S almost 20 years since three young boys were found dead in the woods of West Memphis, Arkansas, and three teenagers - including self-styled occultist Damien Echols - were convicted of the murders on flimsy evidence.
The case was covered at length in the Paradise Lost trilogy of documentaries, but these somehow failed to mention the significant role played by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. Jackson and his wife, Fran Walsh, ultimately financed their own investigation, unearthing new information that West of Memphis, directed by Amy Berg, reveals.
Cynics might see this film as an ego trip for Jackson, who co-produced and seems to have roped in as many celebrity acquaintances as possible. Warren Ellis and Nick Cave composed the sorrowful score, while Eddie Vedder croons a specially composed ukulele song over images of birds in flight.
Such detours aside, West of Memphis is well organised and absorbing - and there's no reason to feel anything but goodwill towards Echols and his wife, Lorri Davis, who are also credited as producers.
Assuming Echols and his friends were innocent, the real killer remains at large. Like the final Paradise Lost film, West of Memphis points the finger at one suspect in particular - but the entire saga surely highlights the folly of rushing to judgment.
Cinema Nova (MA, 147 minutes)