Plot: What’s it about?
After Paradise Lost offered a look into a triple murder case in West Memphis, Arkansas, a lot of unanswered questions remained. In addition, the film had sparked a lot of people’s minds and in some cases, rallied support for the accused. As new hearings took place, new experts were brought in, and some new evidence surfaced, filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky returned to West Memphis, to make Paradise Lost 2: Revelations. In this follow up piece, the filmmakers revisit most of the prominent players, from the three convicted young men to Mark Byers (father of one of the murder victims), but also some new faces, such as the denizens of the media around the case, a support group who stands behind the accused men, as well as a new expert looking into the case. In this time period, we’re taken through various hearings, interviews with countless people involved in the case, and new footage taken with Mark Byers, as he showcases more of his strange antics. A lot of new doors were opened with the original Paradise Lost feature, but even more remained open and even after Paradise Lost 2, some still have yet to be closed.
The original Paradise Lost was a powerful film, one that evoked emotion in anyone who watched, no matter whom the viewer believed. It presented both sides of a controversial case, one which the media had shown only one side of, which made in an invaluable tool for us outsiders, as we could see both sides shown without bias. I had doubts about how Paradise Lost 2 could live up to the original, but as powerful a film as it was, this sequel is even more so. As years have passed, new evidence has come to light, new events surround Mark Byers, and a new look was being given to the case, perhaps a hopeful one for the accused. It becomes harder and harder to understand how these pieces of evidence are ignored, if nothing else. As even more holes in the prosecution’s case tear wide open, it seems like most people still don’t mind, so long as the kids who wore all black are still behind bars. If you viewed Paradise Lost and were reached on any level, I highly recommend this sequel, as it packs the same kind of punch, but a much harder one in the end.
Video: How does it look?
Paradise Lost 2 is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. As this is a documentary, the image isn’t as refined as a normal feature film, but for the most part, the film is well presented. I saw no problems with color or contrast elements, nor with the source materials, but this is still a flawed visual effort. I am unsure if it is due to the methods used to transfer this film to disc or not, but some of the feature has a digital haze present, which sometimes blows into full pixilation, though not to an extreme level. This was less obvious on some smaller screens I also tested it on, but it was present and on my widescreen television, it proved to be a distraction at times. I also saw some moire patterns, edge enhancement, and other compression related errors, which isn’t good news. This is more than watchable, but it has a lot of flaws, though since this is a documentary feature, it is easier to deal with, I think.
Audio: How does it sound?
This was a made for television documentary and as such, the included Dolby Digital stereo option is more than sufficient. The elements come through in clean and clear form, with no volume errors in the least. The musical soundtrack has a little spark and sounds good here, while the various sound effects are audible, but remain natural in tone, as intended. No issues with dialogue at all here, as all the vocals seem rich and in fine form. This won’t be a new reference track, but as far as the material goes, this is about as good as it gets.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes talent files on the filmmakers, as well as a selection of still photos.