West of Memphis


Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jan 16, 2013
    Do we need a fourth film? Yes, I think we do. If you only see one of them, this is the one to choose, because it has the benefit of hindsight.
  2. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Dec 18, 2012
    That makes this the most rare of films: one that indisputably matters. And one that stuns.
  3. Reviewed by: David Hughes
    Dec 10, 2012
    Prepare to be shocked, disturbed, awed... and, if you expected justice to prevail at last, ultimately devastated.
  4. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Mar 7, 2013
    West of Memphis does nothing to displace its predecessor films as masterpieces of investigative filmmaking, but complements them as a riveting capstone to an epic and tragic tale.
  5. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Feb 27, 2013
    Thanks to Jackson's involvement as a producer, Berg has time and access Berlinger and Sinofsky didn't, allowing expansion of whatever material that's repeated.
  6. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jan 9, 2013
    The film casts a hypnotic spell all its own. It artfully sketches out the events for anyone who's coming in cold, but basically, its strategy is to take what we already know and go deeper.
  7. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jan 24, 2013
    As with "The Central Park Five," you come away from the film impressed by the storytelling but enraged by the facts. It's outrageous that this kind of thing happens, but Berg does an outstanding job of showing us how it does.
  8. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jan 3, 2013
    Ms. Berg's film, which she wrote with Billy McMillin, tells the story with unprecedented clarity. She has a dramatist's eye for what was irretrievably lost-the innocent lives of the children, plus 18 years of three other innocent lives.
  9. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Nov 25, 2012
    Amy Berg's clear, captivating, indignant film carves out its own significant place in criminal-justice cinema, makes new and startling revelations into the triple-murder mystery, and is visually spectacular to boot.
  10. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Mar 14, 2013
    While the “Paradise Lost” films captured events as they unfolded in the heat of battle, West of Memphis has the luxury of at least partial closure.
  11. Reviewed by: Sara Stewart
    Dec 20, 2012
    This is a compelling and comprehensive guide to one of the most Kafkaesque crime stories in American history.
  12. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Dec 27, 2012
    Although it's the fourth documentary about the West Memphis Three, West of Memphis doesn't feel superfluous. This bizarre case rates at least 18 documentaries - one for each year Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley spent in prison for murders they clearly didn't commit.
  13. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Dec 21, 2012
    A gripping documentary.
  14. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Nov 25, 2012
    Thorny, blood-boiling and finely made.
  15. Reviewed by: Philip Kemp
    Nov 25, 2012
    A superbly detailed account of a notorious miscarriage of justice and how it was gradually unravelled. It's a tad overlong, but the passion, skill and revelations on display will captivate you.
  16. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Feb 21, 2013
    The movie leaves you feeling angry and frustrated anyway. And justice for all? Hardly.
  17. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Feb 9, 2013
    A long documentary that's very hard to watch - at times, it's harrowing.
  18. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Jan 31, 2013
    In a well-paced two and a half hours, Berg's film is an ambitious mixture of summary and fresh investigation.
  19. 75
    It's a fine summation of this complicated story, one that focuses heavily on Echols and his sweeping declarations about the state of justice in Arkansas and America.
  20. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jan 24, 2013
    West of Memphis makes a lucid, absorbing contribution to an epic saga that Berlinger and Sinofsky first wrestled into an 18-year-long narrative that changed two lives and saved one. And it gives that epic an ending that's happy, sad, inspiring, infuriating, right and terribly wrong, all at the same time.
  21. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jan 17, 2013
    A strong, blood-boiling documentary from director Amy Berg, who made the similarly fine "Deliver Us From Evil".
  22. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Dec 26, 2012
    On its own merits, though, West Of Memphis is a well-assembled, well-argued documentary that shows how America's advocacy model of trial law can lead to government representatives spinning stories they know are probably untrue, then using their authority to stand strong against any alternate theory, no matter how many millions of people believe it.
  23. Reviewed by: Tomas Hachard
    Dec 19, 2012
    By taking a disturbing and sometimes conflicted look at the prejudices that led to the West Memphis Three's imprisonment, it asks murky questions about how people could get something so wrong for so long.
  24. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Dec 26, 2012
    The film is inspiring because it has a semi-happy ending attached to a love story.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 2
  2. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Dec 28, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. It's a very interesting documentary which feels a bit too ordinary toward the end. I've seen the 3 Paradise Lost docs on HBO, so perhaps this film didn't have the same shock value for me that that it would like have for someone new to the subject. After the strong mountain of evidence that stacked up against the "other" stepfather who hadn't been scrutinized as strongly as the first over the last 15 years or so, it's a bit of a let-down that we don't see a criminal action brought against him. I would have liked to have seen the filmmakers at least address the issue. Glad to see Eddie Vedder (and the other "outsiders" praised by the final judge) stick by the 3 for over a decade of his life. Bottom line: it's an amazing story, but I felt like West of Memphis could have been a little tighter in its presentation after 3 such amazing HBO docs on essentially the same subject. Full Review »
  2. Dec 15, 2013
    Justice gone wrong. It happens every day, yet it also goes right more often then not. Point is, what does justify that one case of failedJustice gone wrong. It happens every day, yet it also goes right more often then not. Point is, what does justify that one case of failed justice is held above the others? Are the Memphis 3 special? I think not. It's a tragic case, but there are plenty more in all states, all countries of the world. Difference is that those people aren't interesting enough for celebrities to get involved. Sure, it's cool that legends like Eddie Vedder and Henry Rollins are active for this case, but why just this case? Is it because it's WHITE justice gone wrong? Would it be different, let alone be a movie, if they wore slightly "off colour"? Just wondering... Full Review »