Tales Of The Grim Sleeper, movie review: Nick Broomfield's compassionate documentary gives victims' families a voice

(15) Nick Broomfield, 110 mins
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The Independent Culture

In this admirable, compassionate documentary, Nick Broomfield undertakes research that should have been done by the Los Angeles Police Department more than 20 years ago.

His subject is ostensibly the alleged serial killer Lonnie Franklin Jr (nicknamed the Grim Sleeper), who may have killed more than 100 women over a 25-year period, but the real focus is Franklin's community in a deprived part of South LA.

Broomfield is able to win the trust of Franklin's neighbours and friends – even of Lonnie's volatile son. The circumstantial evidence he digs up against Franklin is overwhelming. He reveals just how badly the community was served by the LAPD.

As several interviewees tell him, if the victims had been blonde-haired, middle-class white women from a more affluent neighbourhood, the cops would have gone to extreme lengths to track down the killer.

Many, though, were black prostitutes or drug addicts – and the police seemingly didn't think their deaths worth investigating. By doing the cops' work for them, Broomfield gives the victims' families a voice and treats them with a respect the authorities denied them.