Part of Netflix‘s success is due to the fact that the streaming service has found a few unique niches for its original content that have resonated with its audiences. Aside from exclusive stand-up comedy specials and boundary-pushing sci-fi tales like Sense8 and Stranger Things, several of Netflix’s most popular original series and most anticipated upcoming releases are in the “true crime” vein, currently a hot genre in television and podcasting. Aside from Narcos, Making a Murderer, and the upcoming The Keepers, Netflix has just released another addition to its true crime library: Casting JonBenet.
The documentary is directed by Australian director Kitty Green and collects interviews, reenactments, and recollections about JonBenet Ramsey, a six-year-old girl from Boulder, Colorado who was found dead in her home on Christmas night 1996. Suspicion initially centered on Ramsey’s family, but the family was later cleared of any wrongdoing in 2008. The case remains unsolved to this day.
Already, the documentary has garnered mixed reviews. Rolling Stone calls the film “a poignant exploration of a pivotal crime, as reimagined through members of the local community” which engages viewers to “revisit the more harrowing moments of their own histories – everything from parental regrets to horrific memories of childhood abuse.” The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody, meanwhile, calls the documentary “the Jackass of reflexive documentaries” and that Green “reduces most of the movie to stupid-white-people tricks,” whatever those are. Nevertheless, the film boasts an 88% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 74/100 on Metacritic. Casting JonBenet premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in January and is currently available for streaming on Netflix as of April 28.
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