On December 26th, 1996, 6 year old beauty pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey was reported missing from her family home in Boulder, Colorado. A few hours later her father, Jon, and a local detective discovered her body in the basement of the house. No one has ever been charged with her murder, and the case remains open.
Much like the case of Madeline McCann, the murder of JonBenet became a media phenomenon. It was covered round the clock on news channels, and remains a fascination to this day. This is the second documentary on the case to be released in the last year. Conspiracy theories about her death have developed; everyone has their own idea of what really happened. There's even a truly bizarre theory that the murder was faked, and Katy Perry is JonBenet Ramsey all grown up (Perry was born 6 years before JonBenet).
If you put on this documentary hoping for a Making A Murder style true crime mystery, you'll be sorely disappointed. Casting JonBenet takes a very different approach to how true crime subjects are usually covered. We do not hear from JonBenet's family, police that worked on the case or experts in crime and forensics. There are no answers to the mysteries that still surround her death, and there is no moment of revelation where the likely murderer is revealed. This style will not work for everyone, and may frustrate many, but there is still much to engage with.
Much like the recent My Scientology Movie and Kate Plays Christine, Casting JonBenet reconstructs events and explores the case through the eyes of the actors cast to play the family members.
These actors recall the details of the case as they remember them, and speculate on what they believe really happened. Rather than being about the murder of JonBenet, this ends up being a documentary about the fascination and phenomenon surrounding the case.
The director managed to find a great cast of actors, which is really the strength of this film. We hear from people whose own family members have been murdered, people who knew the Ramsey family and parents reflecting on their relationship with their own kids. We're constantly reminded that the speculation around these high profile crimes can go off in many, strange directions.
This might not be the film you're expecting, but it's still worth a watch.