I can't remember exactly where I heard about this movie, but I vaguely recall awards buzz about Catherine Keener's performance and when I heard the words 'torture', 'basement' and 'true story', I immediately made a point of figuring out what the hell people were talking about.
An American Crime is the true story of Sylvia Likens' horrible death in 1960's Indiana and you guys...oh my god.
I watched the movie at home and alone, which was probably a bad idea because I needed to both discuss it and drink heavilly. Relax, I did neither. You know what I did do? Psychotic research on the case and trial.
Basically, here's what went down:
Sylvia and her sister, Jenny were 16 and 15, 2 of 5 Likens kids who were, this sounds weirder than it was, carnival workers. Having met Gertie Baniszewski, the Likens' agreed to pay her $20 a month to take care of Sylvia and Jenny during carnie season. Due to typical teenage girl shit between Gertie's daughter and Sylvia, poor Sylvia becomes vilified, abused, tortured and ultimately, murdered by Gertie, her family and the kids in the neighborhood. Basically, Sylvia is kept in the basement and used as a punching bag by any white trash spawn within 20 blocks.
The movie's bracing enough. But uh, going online and digging around, the story is way more horrific than the movie portrayed and thus to me, more interesting.
I won't get into it here because it'll freak out my mother but HERE YOU GO.
They branded "I'm a prostitute and proud of it" on her torso, you know, for fun.
I'm amazed I've never heard of Sylvia before, as this kind of sad, tragic and dicey story is right up my alley. So if anyone's got anymore of these, send 'em my way. And please watch this movie because I really need someone with whom to discuss it...