BEYOND HUMAN NATURE
(director/writer: Michael Neelsen; screenwriter: Joe Pudas; cinematographer: Michael Nie; editor: Michael Neelsen; music: Alexander Valdes; cast: Mike Piaskowski, Randy Winkler, Cal Monfils, Steve Kaplan, Francine Enright, John Zakowski; Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Natalie Pohorski/Jared Gores/David Neelsen/Michael Neelsen; 1091 Pictures; 2023)
“What’s interesting about this true crime story is that it lets us see how the legal system works, a system that is thought by many to be far from perfect.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The Milwaukee residing Michael Neelsen (“Last Day at Lambeau”) directs a compelling true crime story about a still questionable murder case after thirty years. The well-told documentary is co-written by Neelsen and Joe Pudas. It’s about the Tom Monfils homicide investigation of 1992. Tom drowned in a vat of pulp at a Green Bay, Wisconsin, paper mill with a 40-pound weight tied around his body in November 22, 1992.
It resulted in six of Monfils’ co-workers convicted of murder, a decision that divided the small-town. Even when viewed today, some believe justice was served, others believe the convicted men were railroaded.
The police investigation concluded Tom was murdered in retaliation for telling police that one of his co-workers, Keith Kutska, had been stealing electrical wire from the mill. All six men were convicted of first-degree murder in 1995 and four are still in prison waiting to soon be released.
Evidence emerged that Monfils committed suicide after police accidentally released audio recordings of Monfils’ accusations to the co-workers. What’s surprising is that Tom’s brother Cal believes from the onset it was a suicide.
Neelsen uses found footage, recreations and interviews with people involved in the case, TV news footage, new interviews, dramatic reenactments and animation, as he attempts to get out all that’s known about the case (i.e, what led to their convictions) without judging guilt or innocence.
What’s interesting about this true crime story is that it lets us see how the legal system works, a system that is thought by many to be far from perfect.
It played at the Milwaukee Film Festival.
REVIEWED ON 6/3/2023 GRADE: B