West of Memphis Documentary – 2012
West of Memphis, a full-length documentary released in 2012, produced by Damien Echols, one of the 3 boys accused of the horrific murder of three 8 year old children. In this film there is a lot of interviews ranging from the mother of one of the 3 children to a deputy prosecutor then to the wife of Damien Echols. During the documentary the audience gets to see inside of the investigation involving the West Memphis 3 and the misconducted performed during their arrest and questionings. One could argue that this specific documentary is biased because it is produced by one of the accused and that could potentially affect the way the film was formatted and relayed to the audience. We rate this 4/5 stars strictly on that idea. Overall it is a great documentary to watch if you are curious about the West of Memphis and the tragedy that struck the little town.
This documentary as with other similar documentaries focus on their victim, in this case it’s the 3 wrongly accused victims, instead of the victims of the crime. This documentary contains many interviews of one of the boy’s mother. For the first several interviews she talks about her murdered son but as the documentary goes on her interviews shift to her talking about her ex-husband Terry. This shift is parallel with the shift the documentary took when they started to focus more on the perpetrator to get their message across that the 3 wrongly accused victims were innocent.
One shocking scene in the documentary happens when the documentary tries to disprove all of the prosecutions evidence. This scene is a graphic video of a turtle eating a dead pig with a voice over description. This clip is added in to prove that the bites found on the murdered boys’ bodies were caused by turtles, not the perpetrator, disproving the satanic ritual motive the prosecution argued. However this clip could be left out because it does not add much to the overall argument but it is added in as a horror element that is imprinted on the viewers mind so they would have an easier time remembering the turtle evidence.
The documentary does include some aspects of humor, though it is unknown if they intended the scene to be humorous. It is the scene where the documentary disproved the prosecutions murder weapon. The murder weapon the prosecution says was used was found in a lake behind of the suspect’s house. Right after the documentary goes into detail about why the knife was the murder weapon the documentary points out that the knife found was thrown in the lake 1 year before the murders happened. What the documentary did in this scene was set the viewer up with evidence of the murder weapon then suddenly have all the viewer’s suspense and belief fall quickly into nothing. Like how the prosecution’s evidence of the murder weapon had nothing to do with the case.
It only took Lorri Davis 14 minutes and 15 seconds to become a main character in this two hour documentary- almost as long as it took her to send fan mail to Damien Echols in prison and fall in love. Throughout the documentary Lorri, Damien Echol’s wife, provides a major source because of her connections with Damien and the outside world during the fight for the Memphis Three. Is her major inclusion in the documentary as a written source due to her and Damien’s correspondence or because it makes a juicy love story to appeal to a wider audience? While I do agree that their letters to each other did provide a great timeline of events happening to the exact day, in this particular documentary a main incentive seems to be adding a romance to the story line. There are many conversations between the two over the phone just talking about their interests and joking around; while these do not add any new information to the case, they attract the romance audience as well as their usual true crime audience to this love story of death row.
Devil’s Knot – 2014
Devil’s Knot is a phenomenal movie. It stars Reese Witherspoon, who although may not be some’s first choice for a movie such as this one, she did absolutely amazing. This dramatization of the true crime case is good introduction to the case for someone who is looking for a retelling rather than a summary. There is a few minor details that are added to the dramatization to pull in the audience rather than giving factual information. Along with these, there are also some harsh details from the case that are included and may be a little hard to watch for certain audiences. With this in mind, we rate the dramatization a 4.5/5 stars. Overall, this was our favorite to watch/listen to.
Most of the sounds in the movie are similar to the sounds found in horror movies with the exception of the metal music played during the scenes with Damien. The movie makes it very clear about the relationship between Damien and the metal music culture. The movies goal with the metal music relation with Damien is to show how the townspeople are thinking of Damien. Think about the video below in the mindset of a religious rural American. The other exception from the horror music is also with Damien during the scene where he is arrested by the police. During this scene Damien and other people are watching a horror movie. Before the police enter his house the guy in the movie is telling another person to run and hide. When the police enter the house the people in the movie start screaming. The horror movie is almost like what the viewer is thinking. During this scene the viewer would want Damien to run and hide from the police instead of just watching the movie. Then be mad when Damien is captured signified by the screaming.
From the very start there is a juxtaposition between Pat, who is Steve’s mother, and Ron Lax, who was a private investigator for the West Memphis Three. The first scenes of the movie are of Pat walking from a small church to pick up her son. Then the next scene is of Ron buying something from an auction in an opulent ballroom. Next scene is Pat making dinner in a small kitchen followed by Ron walking out of a high rise in the city to his car. The juxtaposition makes it clear how different these two people’s lives are, possibly to emphasis the strangeness of Ron willingly being the private investigator for the West Memphis Three pro bono. As well as give a reason for their different viewpoints because of the extremely different lives. It should also be noted that Ron is not given a name or description of who he is in relation to the trial until over half an hour into the movie. Until then he is just a random rich guy who has an interest in the case.
Why Everything You Think You Know About The West Memphis Three Case Is Wrong! – 2021
Listening to this podcast is unlike anything else we have selected to read. It is narrated by an individual who genuinely believes that the three teenage boys performed the horrific acts of this crime. He is very vocal on his accusations and beliefs regarding the case and those involved. He also claims he is an expect on the case, which can be misleading to the audience. We rate this podcast a 2/5, only because it is an extremely one-sided telling of the case.
This podcast is unlike the documentary and movie because the people in the podcast believe that the West Memphis Three actually killed the three boys. Gary Meece makes his opinion very clear and has said at multiple times that Damien, Jessie, and Jason are satanic cult murderers. At one point he called Jason a malevolent sociopath who pretends to be a nice and funny guy. This bias makes it so the questions he answered about the common misconceptions about the West Memphis Three case are heavily on the police’s side for their decision to arrest the three men. Meece also ignores certain evidence that does not support his case much like what he said the documentaries did. However, this is a good podcast to listen to because it does bring to light information that the documentaries do not share because it does not suit their message like the police investigation and Damien’s pre-arrest behavior.
Where is the DNA evidence that the West Memphis Three said they had which will help their case? Gary Meece mentions this multiple times as a way to show that the West Memphis Three were just making stuff up to appear innocent. Unknown DNA not revealed to the public does support his case because it makes the West Memphis Three seem suspicious. Interestingly enough the West of Memphis 2012 documentary answers the DNA question, which is the DNA found points to Steve’s stepfather as the possible killer. However, Meece does not seem to know this, which could show that he only watched the Paradise Lost documentaries which he referenced many times and not the recent West of Memphis documentary. Just for clarification the podcast was recorded in 2021. Another reason why Meece probably did not watch the 2014 documentary is that he comments that the West Memphis Three never searched for the real killer even though they have multiple resources and said they would. The 2014 documentary was produced by Damien and gives a strong case for the person they think killed the three boys.