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‘Outcry’ (SXSW digital review)

Executive Produced by Vinnie Malhotra,
Stephen Espinoza, Pat Kondelis,
Michael H. Rockafellow,
Jody M. Wingrove, Stephen Germer
Produced by Lynsey Tamsen Jones
Written and Directed by Pat Kondelis

 

True crime tales are an evergreen genre (whether in tabloid, podcast, or mini-series form) because they tap into primal human emotions, including a basic need to know whodunit, while the best ones — a distinction which certainly applies to the new Showtime docuseries Outcry (based on the first two episodes made available to reviewers via the digital screening library of the COVID-cancelled SXSW 2020 multimedia festival) — articulate complex hot button topics as they challenge our own inherent biases and preconceived notions.

The five-part show (premiering April 24) begins with blurred-out footage of a four-year-old boy saying “With Greg?” when asked if he understands the concept of telling the truth during a 2014 sexual abuse investigation in Williamson County, a conservative Texas district defined as much by its strict “law and order” policing as it is by the community’s passion for high school football, two core status quo fundamentals which instantly come into conflict when clues in the case lead to the arrest of a popular, clean-cut teenage football star named Greg Kelley.

The basic details of what happened next are easy enough to find online, though patient viewers might want to wait instead for Showtime’s compelling depiction of the tale’s ensuing twists and revelations.

Yet even those with full knowledge of the incident may find themselves fascinated by director Pat Kondelis’s exploration of the attendant controversies, from assumptions of victims’ rights and new theories of child psychology to the unpredictable intersection of politics and justice in modern-day America.

 

 

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