Purveyor of a wide range of independent films Garden Thieves Pictures offers an exceptional look at the crimes of lesser-known serial killer Ronald Dominique in the Amazon exclusive DVD release of the documentary "Bayou Blue." This DVD and the Video On Demand version of "Bayou" are available beginning April 8, 2014.
The first notable aspect of this telling of the story of Dominique raping and killing 23 men in New Orleans and the outlying area between 1997 and 2006 is that it is not sensationalized. There are no lurid crime scene photos, hysterical outbursts from grieving families, or psychotic video footage of Dominique.
"Bayou" additionally offers interesting and important commentary regarding the nature of the crimes and of the rural and largely blue-collar characteristics of the hunting grounds of Dominique.
Dominique selecting lower-income men who typically are some combination of gay, homeless, drug addicts, and mentally ill seemingly results in the police departments that participated in the search for him to initially not pursuing the investigations very diligently. One relative of a victim sums this up very eloquently in commenting that the police should have been able to stop Dominique before he killed 23 people.
Other noteworthy aspects of this film include the occurrences of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hampering the investigation and the unrelated limited nature of communication between the police departments delaying the realization of similar killings in their jurisdictions.
The "stars" of "Bayou" are police detectives Dawn Forest and Dennis Thornton, who team up after realizing that they are most likely after the same person.
The cordial but matter-of-fact style of these investigators is well suited for their job and for telling the tale of Dominique. An example of this is a rather off-hand comment regarding the preference of Dominique for black men but a willingness to accost a white man if he cannot find a black one.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Bayou" offers a good sense of both Dominique and the rural setting of his crimes.
Forest and Thornton guide the audience through many of the drop spots and provide interesting insights regarding both the geographical characteristics of those locations and the close proximity of some of them.
Audio of Dominique describing his meeting, attempted sexual activity, and subsequent choking of his victims augments this documentation of his crimes. Hearing him speak as if resisting his aggressive unwanted sexual advances justifies snuffing his victims is very odd and provides a strong sense of the mindset of a true psychopath; his tone indicates that he is merely discussing ordinary daily events.
Interviews with numerous relatives of victims is similarly low key and largely relates both to a victim simply disappearing and thoughts regarding why that man would willingly go off with Dominique. Although clearly sad about the turn of the events, no family member over emotes.
An interview with an intended victim who escapes offers the best insight regarding both the type of person whom Dominique targets and how he perpetrates his offenses. The story of this man is compelling, the tale of how he avoids being killed is amazing, and the lasting effect of his encounter with Dominique is very sad.
Filmmaker Alix Lambert, whose credits include the uber-quirky HBO series "John From Cincinnati," shows equally good instincts regarding the placement and length of settings. Using a variety of narrative techniques is always a good thing in documentaries, and Lambert provides each member of the "class" to speak for an apt period.
The final verdict regarding this documentation of Dominique is that his story well illustrates the costs of society ignoring the folks who most need our support. Losing your life is a tough price to pay for having more issues than most of us and for ending up in a community that lacks the same opportunities as more developed regions.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Bayou" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.