Earlier this month, Sky gifted true crime fans with their very own channel called Sky Crime; a channel exclusively for true crime content, made up of US true crime films and shows from the likes of Oxygen and HBO. Basically, if series like Making A Murderer, The Innocent Man or The Staircase floated your boat, then be sure to investigate this brand new channel. All of the content is also available on NOW TV, as part of a NOW TV Entertainment pass, FYI.
Sky Crime was host to a HBO two-part documentary called Who Killed Garrett Phillips? last weekend; a documentary that has got a lot of people talking – in many cases, fuming. In fact, since it was first shown on HBO earlier this month, some viewers have gone on to describe this documentary as one of the most disturbing true crime documentaries ever. Here’s why…
Who Killed Garrett Phillips? is one of the latest offerings from documentary film maker Liz Garbus (Bobby Fischer Against the World, Love, Marilyn, and What Happened, Miss Simone?). In the two-part documentary, Garbus investigates the unsolved murder of 12-year-old Garrett Phillips, who died in the town of Potsdam, New York in 2011.
The documentary outlines the events that followed his death and depicts how the seemingly innately “racist” town of Potsdam linked the crime to one of their few non-white residents, Nick Hillary. According to the documentary’s narrative, the only link Hillary had to Garrett Phillips was that he was in a 12-month relationship with his mum for a time. This sparked a five-year police investigation.
The film closely documents the investigation and shines a light on the treatment of Hillary throughout the process. At one point he is unknowingly quizzed by police officers before being forced to strip naked for a full body exam. It’s somewhat uncomfortable viewing to say the least.
The film also unpicks the uprising of the town as fury grew and grew over the death of young Garrett, sparking mob-like signs that read “JUSTICE FOR GARRETT”.
Although Hillary was eventually cleared, in many ways his life has been ruined by the allegations and sadly, Garrett’s real killer has never been brought to justice.
Heavy themes of innate racism, social injustice and suspicious policing all rear their ugly heads in this story and stay there for hours in this documentary. And it’s safe to say viewers have thoughts. Just scroll through the Twitter comments.
I could go on and on.
This is undoubtedly the kind of uproar Liz Garbus was seeking to spur up with her film, but it’s this kind of action that is still needed in 2019, unfortunately. Shine a spotlight on what’s wrong with the world and expose it for what it is, I say. Warning: it’s not pretty.
Who Killed Garrett Phillips? is being shown again on Sky Crime on 2nd November. It’s a tough, but important watch.
Images via HBO and Sky
Having worked in children's media and publishing for almost a decade, Ben is thoroughly excited to now be able to swear in stories and features. He is such a big fan of Disney and Horror films that he started an LGBTQ+ podcast called 'Once Upon A Scream'. His mum listens.