Tales of the Grim Sleeper ***Dir: Nick Broomfield. With: Nick Broomfield, Pam Brooks. 110 mins. Cert: 15
Nick Broomfield’s new doc picks over the grisly bones of a serial-killer case that continues to haunt South Central L.A. In 2010, Lonnie Franklin Jr. was charged with murdering ten women over the previous quarter-century; he’d gained the nickname “Grim Sleeper” from the theory he’d rested 14 years between killings, but Polaroids scattered around Franklin’s pad suggest other victims may simply have vanished into this impoverished, crack-scarred, deeply misogynist landscape. Broomfield’s follow-ups with friends and neighbours reveal how normalised Franklin’s behaviour had become – one thought nothing of the “motor oil” he cleaned from Franklin’s carpets – yet their oversight pales against the LAPD’s institutionalised indifference: you gulp upon learning Franklin was only apprehended via an evidentiary fluke. Tough viewing, but the filmmaker’s commitment is unmistakable: even after being pulled over for driving without a seatbelt – a trademark Broomfield bumble – he still thinks to ask the cop what he knew of this tragically compelling episode.
Tales of the Grim Sleeper opens in selected cinemas from today.