Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2012)
Documentarians Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky first delved into the case of the West Memphis Three back in the mid-90s when teenagers Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley quite recently had been convicted of murdering three 8 year old boys in the backwoods of West Memphis, Arkansas. The local mass-hysteria surrounding the case, in which every finding at the crime scene and every nonconformity in the suspects was interpreted in the most slanderous way, created the perfect breeding ground for prejudgement. And the first Paradise Lost film, released in 1996, documented this inconceivable hysteria to award-winning effect.
Now, almost two decades later, it's no longer kids we meet in prison, but reflective, serious young adults with more perspective and insight than any of the officials or parents displayed in the first two Paradise Lost films. The time that has passed coupled with Berlinger/Sinofsky's profound interest and understanding of their case make this third and final installment a piercing documentary. During the course of these films, Berlinger/Sinofsky has never outright stated their opinion as to the guilt of any of the implicated, with that creating a nerve and tension which remains until the final shot of Purgatory. Instead, they have done all they can to shed light on every possible aspect of the case. And last but not least, they have given a voice to one of the most fascinating subjects of any real-crime documentary, Damien Echols (up there with Robert Durst, without any further comparison). Watch and make up your own opinion on this incredible trilogy – it's a worthy magnum opus for one of the most important filmmaking duos of our time.