Plot: In the lush, dense woods of Humboldt County, California, a booming cannabis trade has thrived for decades. The area supplied an overwhelming majority of the black market’s weed, first as hippies sought out the isolation and serenity of the locale, then as more commerce minded folks moved in. Within Humboldt is a zone known as Murder Mountain, populated by mostly black market growers who found themselves locked into disputes over the lucrative cannabis business. Murder Mountain gives us an inside look at Humboldt and some of the residents that call it home, guiding us through the colorful past through the challenges of legalization.
Entertainment Value: I was drawn to Murder Mountain because of the weed element, so my main interest was the look at how the cannabis culture of Humboldt evolved, but even for non weed fans, there is a lot of potential interest here. This Netflix limited series takes us down several narrative paths, though not all of the stories are given equal screen time, not even close. The early episodes focus on the history of Humboldt, when hippies arrived to grow weed off the grid and that also allows us some perspective on how much the area has changed since. I appreciated the history segments and hearing first hand accounts of founding the cannabis trade in the area was quite cool. These sequences are brisk, but still carry a good amount of information on both the weed grows and the people who settled Humboldt. Then we have two true crime style threads that run through the series, one an unsolved murder and the other a disappearance, though the latter isn’t given much time at all. The crime aspect is important, as there is a reason the area is called Murder Mountain and while I wasn’t enthralled by the murder mystery, it was by no means dull or slow.
The final main component is how Humboldt evolved as cannabis was legalized, which of course had a massive impact on the area. The journey to legal weed and how the local growers handled the shift is told by some of the growers themselves, as well as some legal experts and law enforcement officials. This was an interesting element to be sure, as we get to watch some of the grow operations and check out the weed fields, which I loved. However, watching huge stockpiles of weed torched or shredded by the cops was a sad sight, without question. I enjoyed Murder Mountain, but I did expect more colorful, wild folks to populate the area, while the ones we follow here are rather nondescript in most cases. So the stories are interesting for the most part, but the folks involved don’t leave much of an impression. If Murder Mountain had some Tiger King style chaotic people involved, it would have been a cult classic, if not an outright big hit for Netflix, but it is still a solid watch. So for fans of weed, documentaries, or true crime, give Murder Mountain a spin.