How many times have you watched news coverage or a
documentary that bothered you so much that weeks or months later, you suddenly wonder what
happened to the people depicted in the program?
Well, the producers of Home Box Office's Paradise
Lost must have been bitten by the same bug and acted on it, producing Paradise Lost
The original documentary, which won Emmy and Peabody
awards, covered the trial of the now so-called West Memphis 3.
In 1993, three second-graders were sexually mutilated and
found dead in a remote portion of the Tennessee community. Three high-school-aged boys
were rounded up for questioning. It appeared, according to the documentary, that the trio
was under suspicion primarily because they lived near the children and favored heavy metal
music and gothic garb.
Police have a confession, elicited from one of the suspects
after 12 hours of grilling. The youth almost immediately repudiated the statement,
alleging that it had been coerced. There was no physical evidence linking the trio to the
crime, but they were convicted of the murder, with the alleged ringleader, 19-year-old
Damien Echols, sentenced to death.
The original film was creepily fascinating, leaving viewers
both interested in and repulsed by the gruesome crime-scene photos. The producers left
observers seeking information, wanting to figure out the truth.
That impact has helped to fuel the making of Revelations.
Marking an incestuous arc, the film crew is back in town in 1999 to cover a plea for a
second trial for the murderers.
The reopener is based on the argument that the trio
didn't get a fair trial because of the Paradise Lost filmmakers and their
payments to participants on both sides. The trial attracts members of a WM3 support group,
which includes employees of the advertising firm that did the art for the original film on
That shrinking arc is made more suffocating by the time
spent with Mark Byers, the stepfather of one of the victims. He was fingered as a possible
suspect in the first film and badgered about the possibility here.
By the end of the film, the crew became so much a part of
the trial they came to cover that they now may be a hindrance to justice and initiators of
Byers' seemingly schizophrenic episodes.
Paradise Lost 2: Revelations debuts March 13 at 10 p.m.
on HBO. Warning: Crime-scene photos are visible.