A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Teamwork and perseverance are shown by law enforcement. The criminals themselves lie, are greedy, and show little regard for human life.
Positive Role Models
Police forces throughout Europe work together to help bring people smugglers to justice. One police officer speaks of becoming obsessed by the case. They work hard and refuse to give up. The people smugglers lie and are motivated by money. They flee rather than face up to their crimes and show little remorse. The victims themselves are portrayed as wanting to find a better life so they can provide for themselves and their families.
The documentary features people from the United Kingdom, France, Northern Ireland, and Vietnam. Filming takes place in all of these countries. Where English is not spoken, subtitles are used. Discussion about why some Vietnamese migrants find themselves in such difficult and dangerous situations. The documentary ensures it keeps the victims at the center of the film.
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Violence & Scariness
Detailed descriptions of how 39 migrants suffocated to death in the back of a lorry. CCTV and body cam footage shows police officers' initial response when discovering the crime scene. Family members are shown to be visibly upset when talking about the victims. Text messages that the victims sent while trapped in the lorry are shown. A witness gives their account of what a people smuggling operation involves. A coffin is seen being carried.
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Brief use of "Jesus Christ" and "good God" after police make a shocking discovery.
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Products & Purchases
Gucci trainers are seen and cellphone manufacturers are named. But these are in relation to a police investigation rather than any kind of consumerism. References to large amounts of money being exchanged.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A packet of cigarettes is seen in a lorry. Brief reference to the smuggling of cocaine and heroin.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hunting the Ease Lorry Killers is a powerful but harrowing documentary about the death of 39 Vietnamese migrants found in the back of a lorry in England in 2019. The film uses CCTV, body cam footage, talking heads, and police interviews to show how the investigation unfolded. Though no actual violence is depicted on-screen, graphic descriptions of how the victims would have died are told and cellphone messages sent to family members during their last moments are shown. There are also interviews with some of these family members, their heartbreak clear to see. While the criminals involved show no regard to human life with their motivation being money, the different police forces across Europe are shown in a positive light. They work together and show perseverance in their hunt for those involved. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
In what is one of the worst migrant tragedies to happen in the United Kingdom, this hard-hitting documentary is a tough watch. Through a series of talking heads, CCTV footage, and actual police interviews, Hunting the Essex Lorry Killers starts with the discovery of 39 Vietnamese migrants who suffocated to death in the back of a lorry in 2019 and then explains how the subsequent investigation unfolded.
It plays like a police procedural drama. There are dead ends and lucky breaks. But the filmmakers also deserve credit for never losing sight of the human tragedy at the heart of the case. In one sequence, headshots of all 39 of the victims appear on-screen with their names typed underneath. It's a chilling but important moment, as is the documentary as a whole.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.