The murder of JonBenet Ramsey took America by storm in 1996, dominating the news cycle and gossipmongers for months. With the resurgence of true crime fascination in recent years — from “Making a Murderer” to “Serial” to “The Jinx” — it’s only natural that JonBenet Ramsey’s case came back into the spotlight. CBS dug in back in September timed to the 20th anniversary of Ramsey’s murder, and now Netflix is taking their tun with a new series called “Casting JonBenet.”
The series is a completely new genre of documentary that feels like a horrifying hybrid of reality and fiction.
While the docu-fiction contains interviews and personal accounts from the residents of Boulder, Colorado, JonBenet’s hometown, it also comments on the absurd sensationalism that surrounds Hollywood’s attempts to capitalize on human tragedies. Thus the title, “Casting JonBenet.”
In the new trailer, a gaggle of young girls can be seen running around in the same outfit, eagerly awaiting their chance to audition for the role of a murdered child. Other “actors” are captured on camera as well, doing their best to put themselves in the headspace of a grieving mother finding her daughter’s body or a psychotic brother experimenting with violence. They even have a young girl scream right into camera, face full of terror.
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While this trailer is certainly chilling, it also shines the spotlight directly back on Netflix, with the question of — why?
Pointing out the macabre way Hollywood cashes in on real life murders seems hypocritical since they too are adding fuel to that fire. No amount of insightful commentary can entirely erase the fact that slapping JonBenet’s name on this documentary is what makes it so alluring to audiences.
This new, surreal style of documentary could revolutionize the way we look at true crime, and we have no doubt that “Casting JonBenet” will be a heavy-hitter when awards season rolls around.
We’ll be curious about how audiences will react to watching the series in its entirety though, when the trailer alone has people so unsettled already.
“Casting JonBenet” premieres April 28 on Netflix.