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Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills
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Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills

1996
Documentary
Crime
2h 30m
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Avg Percentile 75.65% from 615 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

(615)
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Rated 18 Jul 2008
85
83rd
At the end you don't know what really happened. What you do know is that the convictions were absolutely not beyond a shadow of a doubt and were convicted solely on hearsay and ignorance. It's absolutely infuriating. With that said the documentary itself is an excellent one and I'm very impressed at the access the crew had to everyone involved, the defense, the victims, the police, everyone. Still doesn't change how blatantly abused the justice system was here though.
Rated 11 May 2011
3
92nd
Whether or not the West Memphis Three are guilty, this is one hell of a documentary. Remains interesting until the very last minute and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Gripping.
Rated 22 May 2008
75
64th
A piercing, provocative look at a JUSTICE SYSTEM GONE ASTRAY. Plus it's fun to laugh at hillbillies.
Rated 14 Feb 2010
91
94th
A horrendous crime provides the catalyst for an explosive whirlwind of hysteria, further fuelled by religious zeal and gleefully sensationalist media. The harrowing subject matter hooks, but it's the range of voices that impacts - emotion laden interviews with parents of victims and accused, meetings of prosecution and defence, extensive courtroom and crime scene footage. Such details illuminate with devastating clarity the tragedy inexorably born of this horror.
Rated 27 May 2015
88
90th
Death is scary. Change is scary. And when they come together, what people will do to feel better is even scarier.
Rated 04 Sep 2011
85
94th
Excellent true crime documentary about how strange and elusive the truth can be. Appalling and depressing, certainly, but also entertaining.
Rated 29 Jul 2010
74
67th
The documentary itself is presented in an admirably neutral manner and it remains interesting and gripping throughout, not least because of the gruesome subject. It exposes the faults in the justice system, the effects of media pressure and the dangers of being different from the norm in a highly religious, old-fashioned society. Still, I had to laugh at some of the hillbillies in this one.
Rated 11 Mar 2013
91
95th
Comparable to The Thin Blue Line in two very important ways...which are there is a small part of the film that highlights the incompetence of female police officers and they have wonderfully subtle and emotional soundtracks.
Rated 10 Oct 2010
93
98th
The filmmakers obviously lean towards the accused in the documentary, and from all accounts its understandable. Extremely well made and paced, you will be infuriated by the end.
Rated 29 Apr 2015
88
94th
I was born and raised in a poor Appalachian textile town, with many of my friends and family living in trailer parks. When I was younger, I had long hair, wore black, and listened to heavy metal music. While we were a nice town in a more accepting time, I quickly learned about the viciousness and hate that could rise in the nicest of people. Paradise Lost is a tragedy, showcasing a moral panic that is given power to convict and kill.
Rated 07 Jul 2011
78
78th
I love true crime documentary + early Metallica. No brainer here.
Rated 21 Mar 2011
90
94th
This documentary taught me that in the USA, or at least Arkansas, you can get a death sentence even in the absence of any evidence. It's mind-boggling.
Rated 10 Jul 2018
60
42nd
I can only take so much of rednecks yelling about the satanic homosexuals, but its not really the documentary's fault that so many people are contemptible idiots
Rated 02 Dec 2008
93
93rd
Possibly the best documentary I've seen in my life. The interviews are heartfelt and provocative- and the interview with the stepfather, in the context of everything, possibly haunting. It is left entirely up to the viewer to decide if the boys are innocent, as the justice system has made up its mind twenty minutes into the three hour film.
Rated 19 Nov 2009
85
71st
Fascinating look at the West Memphis three that refuses to pick sides, and leaves the viewer with more questions than answers.
Rated 07 Nov 2010
2
45th
stunning story about young satanic killers
Rated 17 Mar 2013
7
67th
A zealous and incompetent town decides three boys are guilty of a terrible crime without proving a single shred of evidence. It's infuriating. If you're from the South like I am this will probably anger you. Complaints about the filmmakers having a "bias" towards the accused is ridiculous because it implies their prejudice is unfair, which it is not. The jurors involved in the trials are complete idiots.
Rated 16 Nov 2007
60
17th
Very interesting. Worth watching, especially if you're from the South. It shows how flawed the legal system can be when fear of the unusual is allowed to dictate.
Rated 02 Jan 2011
90
95th
wow and lol America shirt
Rated 13 Jan 2007
81
55th
There is a crazy and creepy guy in this movie, and in my experience real crazy and creepy guys are the best.
Rated 18 Apr 2022
2
9th
I love a good documentary, but a good documentary looks at all sides. This was a hit piece on the prosecution who actually had a good point: people with mental health issues spotted near the site of a murder who have no alibis are often guilty, especially if no other credible suspects emerge. There was a lot left out that in fairness should have been discussed and it ruined any ability to enjoy this highly repetitive film.
Rated 12 Feb 2014
4
91st
[Distant] There's obviously the incompetence of the legal and investigative teams but, it's the creepiness of the local population/Jury that I remember most.
Rated 15 Mar 2020
96
90th
A
Rated 23 Nov 2021
80
80th
An excellent documentary which while favoring the accused from the get go. Paints a vivid picture of a massive miscarriage of justice. Not because these boys were necessarily innocent but the very fact there three boys arrest and convection was based on hearsay, demonic panic, pressure from the public to solve a gruesome crime. a biased jury, and ignorance in all fashions.
Rated 07 Mar 2016
5
42nd
I think watching this twenty years after initial release hurts. Absolutely abysmal and dated music derails this mystery. I'll admit I sort this after the not-so-good making of a murderer series. Maybe because I'm not American but it never demanded my attention.Might write more when not highly intoxicated...
Rated 19 Feb 2024
70
63rd
Damien comes across as a really interesting individual. The case is another example of the mob attitude, where evidence that strongly suggests the unlikelihood of those convicted being the perpetrator's is ignored on the basis of prejudice.
Rated 10 Sep 2018
95
87th
What the fuck Arkansas? There's not really any clear evidence presented either way as to the guilt or innocence of the defendants, but wow the Justice system shit the bed on this one. If the procedural lapses weren't disconcerting enough, the religious hysteria surrounding the case and the geographic concentration of sheer idiocy is terrifying.
Rated 26 Jan 2012
60
55th
Paradise Lost starts as an exploration into what happened at Robin Hood Hills and turns into an examination of the justice system gone awry. Despite its egregious length and shoddy editing, Paradise Lost achieves its result and does so with stomach-churning angst as all three boys end up convincted with less than no evidence.
Rated 08 Nov 2014
72
75th
While it makes the case in favor of the accused, this compelling account of such bizarre mixture of inconsistencies and flawed investigation procedures create a truly urgent, confident and intimate document.
Rated 18 Dec 2009
90
95th
See my full review.
Rated 30 May 2012
94
99th
As in-depth as possible. You will never see anything like this again.
Rated 05 Apr 2015
76
57th
Fiquei com medo, se algum dia eu for acusada de assassinato certamente seria condenada pela linha de "raciocínio" dessa gente.
Rated 14 May 2017
64
69th
What I don't like about these true crime documentaries is that they are missing the big reveal, where you learn THE TRUTH. Obviously the filmmakers were on the side of the accused and the documentary makes a good case of the conviction being a witch-hunt. But I am not convinced either of their innocence of their guilt. The setting of hillbilly states of America adds surreal and humorous aspect to the docu.
Rated 13 Feb 2012
10
98th
Creepy, riveting, interesting, thrilling, unbelievable. A must see if you like documentaries. I still don't know what happened, despite the filmmakers attempts to persuade you into thinking they are innocent. But I think the kids were too young and dumb to pull off something that clearly someone with a high IQ and who was very meticulous did.
Rated 05 Dec 2014
74
33rd
I don't know if it's that HBO style or the Metallica music that's too on-point, but it feels dated. It's still powerful and compelling, but it's a little long and rough.
Rated 23 Aug 2013
80
95th
Excellent.
Rated 02 Jan 2013
87
85th
A documentary that actually made me want to stand up and do something: if this kind of thing happens very often, our legal system is completely fucked. It's important for films like this to exist, so that we can see first hand that our system is not as fool proof as we think it is. A compelling, unsettling, and enlightening movie.
Rated 19 Apr 2009
90
97th
Very Interesting Documentary. And Despite The Subject Matter I Have To Say There Were Some Scenes Were I Had To Laugh At Some People Involved...
Rated 19 Aug 2017
75
84th
The beginning of a fascinating trilogy that is among the most essential crime documentaries made, Paradise Lost begins with a heinous triple murder and goes on to document (and even alter the course of) legal proceedings that call into question social stigmas, media sensationalism, gross police misconduct from interrogation to trial, and perhaps especially the jury system. Bloodcurdling to anyone who cares about civil rights.
Rated 29 Jun 2012
80
96th
Fascinating HBO documentary following the trial of three teenagers accused of a gruesome triple-child-murder, interviewing virtually everyone involved (the accused, families of the victims, police, lawyers, judges...) as the story unfolds. Begins as a seemingly straightforward case before evolving into a genuinely compelling did they/didn't they drama, which (somewhat frustratingly) still isn't clear come the final credits. Even better than Capturing The Friedmans.
Rated 25 Dec 2012
90
91st
Unforgettable.
Rated 20 Aug 2011
90
92nd
The evidence wasn't really there the only real thing against them being a serrated hunting knife that was found behind their trailer park but finding a serrated hunting knife around a trailer park is like shooting fish in a barrel. At first I wasn't really leaning anyway towards guilty/not-guilty then they toss John Mark Byers into the mix
Rated 27 Nov 2011
70
76th
Be sure to watch the second part. Mark Byers is one big freak
Rated 21 Jan 2019
76
57th
It's definitely not a bad documentary. But I watch movies to escape reality. I live near mostly people like this so it's discouraging to see them in my home. It's not shocking to me, like it may be for others. I first heard about this before the three were released. It didn't particularly seem remarkable-that's the way the legal system works out here. Vigilante justice via an all-white jury, or directly, in the South, is commonplace. It's not interesting to me. The film is still very well-made.
Rated 05 Jun 2018
75
65th
"Paradise Lost" documents three teenagers persecuted by conservatives' last bastion against 90s counter-culture in the noose of the Bible Belt. Regardless of who's actually guilty, the documentary doesn't consider who the demons are rather than how many there are. Police incompetence abounds along with true abuse of the justice system to deliver a verdict based on fury instead of the "shadow of a doubt" standard. When the court lies about how it works, who can be trusted with knowing the truth?
Rated 30 May 2016
83
77th
It is a bit unnerving that there is enough material to make so many great documentaries about the criminal justice system. Scenes like Damien combing his hair and checking himself out in the mirror for a very prolonged period of time provided humor throughout this serious documentary. I can't wait to see the next two and West of Memphis.
Rated 12 Aug 2014
95
92nd
This is one of those can't miss documentaries, not a matter of just talking heads but deeply and profoundly candid, unfolding as a totally objective murder case, and never tips its hand to either side no matter how complex and knotted it becomes, especially as the case unravels as a matter of even larger social issues about American jingoism and moral panic, as well as a heartbreaking account of how simple, bucolic people deal with unthinkable loss.

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