Story: Cheshire, Connecticut is an affluent, almost idyllic place to live, with nice homes and friendly neighbors. This is the type of town that seems perfect to raise a family and put down roots, though that serenity would be shattered in one violent act. A vicious home invasion would rock the town, leaving two people dead and another beyond traumatized, not to mention the shockwaves it would send through the once peaceful local landscape. After forcing entry into the home of the Petit family, the invaders would terrorize and brutalize them. William Petit would manage to escape, but by the time the authorities took action, his wife and daughter had been raped, murdered, and set on fire. The Cheshire Murders takes an in depth look at this tragic, infamous case.
Entertainment Value: The Cheshire Murders can safely be called a deep dive into this home invasion nightmare, but it neither begins or ends with that incident. Instead, the documentary provides background on the town, family, and even the criminals involved, providing a profile of sorts for the entire situation. This kind of depth allows us to really get inside the case and find out not just what happened, but why and even analyze the response after the fact. Of course, I am sure everyone would like more answers from the police involved, who made some questionable decisions, but that isn’t likely to happen, let alone so close to the case. But aside from that, The Cheshire Murders explores just about all aspects of the crime, what led to the events and what happened after, including controversy in the courtroom and the reaction of the community itself.
While time is taken to examine the past and mental states of the criminals involved, there aren’t any direct answers as to why the crime happened. The documentary does give the audience a wealth of first hand insights into who the men were and their lives to that point however, so you can at least make some educated guesses, at least to the extent this limited information allows. The interviews are interesting and the filmmakers keep a good pace, with a keen focus and slick editing, so the production values are good and the overall presentation is quite polished. As you would expect, this is a dark case and the film can be hard to watch at times, knowing the suffering involved and tragic losses. I’ve watched a lot of true crime documentaries and they’re usually difficult to watch at times, but few have been as deeply impactful as The Cheshire Murders. I think it is a story that needs to be told and remembered, so I give this a high recommendation.