Review: Casting JonBenet


In Boulder Colorado, the parents of JonBenét Ramsey woke up to find their child missing. It was the morning of December 26, 1996. Preparing for a trip, they found a ransom note saying someone had taken their daughter and the only way to get her back was to give $118,000. 

They had been told not to call the police in the note, but did so anyway. When the police arrived, at 9:55 AM, they made some of the biggest investigative mistakes in history. Before the police even began their investigation the entire neighborhood had walked through the house messing up any evidence that could’ve been valuable to the case. The police didn’t even do a proper search of the house. 

The father, John Ramsey, was told to do a search of the house in case they had missed anything, which in fact they did. The father went into the wine cellar in the basement, a place the police didn’t even search. The father found the body of his six-year-old child, picked her up, and destroyed any evidence that was on the victim. The case is still unsolved because of the improper way it was handled.

The Ramsey case is still very popular today. People have their own opinions on what happened. Some put their ideas out for people to view. This 23 year old story continues to be told over and over, in just about every format imaginable.. Through movies, T.V. shows, books someone should know, at a minimum, the basics of this case. In 2017, a documentary came out directed and written by Kitty Green. 

The documentary started out with little girls auditioning for the role as the little girl who died December 25, 1996, fitting because of the title, “Casting JonBenét”. It wasn’t your normal documentary where there would be a narrator as your guide and you would go scene to scene following the story of what happened. This particular film didn’t even include any interviews with the actual family or police involved. The documentary was described as “original.” There aren’t many words to describe the documentary because of how simple it was. Green went from one actor to another both amateur and professional, filming their auditions. The amount of effort in putting this documentary together expressed that it was simple because there wasn’t much organization. It would go from one audition to another.

Each person auditioning would talk about their connections to the case and/or why they felt casting them would be the most beneficial. Some would act as if they were the parents, the mother calling the police and the father finding their daughter’s body. They would give their own opinions and what they believed happened in the family. Most expressed that the mother more than likely did it because people believe that John didn’t seem like the person to kill his own daughter. People believe that if the mother had committed the crime, it had to do with the beauty pageants. Maybe Ramsey didn’t want to participate in the pageants anymore, but she did enjoy them. She was never forced into it, at least that is what others figure. Women are in prison for robbery or fraud, whilst men are in prison for violent crimes. 

A part of the documentary that the audience deemed inappropriate was when the boys, auditioning as the victim’s brother, Burke Ramsey, were handed hammers and a watermelon was placed in front of them. The watermelon represented a head. Destroying the watermelon proved the adults wrong, the boys were capable of injuring someone, and that someone could be a little six-year-old girl. A theory in the case was that the victim’s brother could be the killer and the parents covered it up. They didn’t want to lose both of their kids, so they created this idea of someone breaking into their home, writing a ransom note but kills the girl in the end. Leaving the body in the wine cellar. 

This documentary, like all documentaries, had its own ups and downs. How it was directed may come off as offensive, because of the lack of energy put into it. If you know the case well enough this is a good way to see how others viewed it and what their opinions are. 

Categories: Entertainment, Opinion

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