Tales of the Grim Sleeper (Nick Broomfield, 2014): USA and UK

Reviewed by Anissa Perez. Viewed at the AFI Fest in Hollywood.

Tales of the Grim Sleeper is a documentary directed by Nick Broomfield, that deals with bringing justice to those who were denied of it because of race and social stigma. The film starts off with a google earth imgae of Lonnie Franklin’s house. This beginning shot describes how easy and accessible it was to get a glimpse of Lonnie Franklin. Franklin was described as a good neighbor who would do anything for anybody. All of his neighbors thought of him fondly and could not believe their eyes when Lonnie was charged with 80 counts of murder and arrested at his house. One person thought that he was being arrested for fraud but never murder. In order to gain more evidence on Lonnie the killer, Broomfield enlists the help of Pamela Brooks. An ex-prostitute and drug addict to help him get interviews in south central LA. After the first 10 minutes Broomfield starts to get more forthcoming interviews about Lonnie the killer. Pam gets mainly hookers off the streets to tell Broomfield who saw what and where. Things start to get very creepy when Broomfield interviews a former crack addict who used to know Lonnie. He said that he was paid 100 dollars to burn a van up. The man then goes on to say that there was bloody clothing and blood all over the back. He didn’t ask any questions because he said he was high and needed money. Broomfield mainly conducted his interviews in that person’s kitchen, living room, or car. T o me this made me feel closer to the interviewee. If i could see how they lived than i could empathize with them and their situation more. One of the first interviews that was conducted in this film was with Pam. The main place where she was interviewed at was her living room. Broomfield took a couple minutes to show Pam flaunting the pictures of her son and other family memebers. Considering that Pam is a huge part of this documentary I thought it was a smart tactic to showcase  who Pam was and what she was about. Towards the second half of the documentary it suddenly dawns on the viewer that it is so glaringly obvious Lonnie Franklin did it, that it almost seemed like the cops approved of his killings. According to one of Lonnie’s friends who had an inkling that Lonnie was killing stated that Lonnie felt like he was cleaning up the streets by getting rid of the “crack-whores”. The film ends with Pamela finding a new batch of women who are willing to be interviewed because they all had survived one of Lonnies attacks. It finally ends on a woman crying after she had just recited her horrifying encounter with Lonnie by saying “I matter, I am not nothing”. This was one fantastically heartbreaking film that I will not forget for a long time. Despite being a spot-on detective Pamela Brooks is a funny woman who is comedic relief in an otherwise gloomy and all too true story. A life is a life and no one has the right to take it nor do they have the right to make it invalid, that is the theme and that is what everyone will take home from watching this film.

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