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Murder Mountain

Netflix’s new six-part docuseries, Murder Mountain, covers multiple missing persons, betrayal, murder and marijuana. It investigates the dark side of the hippie dream.

The region around Humboldt County, California produces 60% of the medical marijuana grown in the U.S.

Humboldt County also has the most missing person cases in the whole state of California.

Missing persons flyers are posted in every shop window and on every telephone pole.

The documentary focuses on the town of Alderpoint, a quaint and secluded area where marijuana farms are hidden from view in the dense forests.

What makes Humboldt so special when it comes to producing marijuana? It’s not the soil or the climate but the enormous amount of woodland that makes it easier for growers to hide. Marijuana farming is still illegal unless you have a permit to grow, but those are few and far between. And there’s now a divide between farmers who welcome legalization and those who want to continue to pursue the outlaw lifestyle.

While there exists an atmosphere of laid-back country-living in Humboldt, there’s also a palpable aura of menace.

Within Alderpoint is the the Rancho Sequoia area, otherwise known as Murder Mountain. This area is notorious for the Carson serial killings and its high volume of various missing persons.

A lot of young people travel to Humboldt envisioning an idyllic lifestyle: working a farm and smoking weed, all the while earning a lot of cash. But the stark reality for a lot of these people is that they can end up in serious danger.

“Trimmigrants” (trimmers who are immigrants) are often taken advantage of and end up losing wages, or worse. 

Humboldt County has an interesting history of this exact desire to be off the grid and live off the land. Hippies came to the area in the 1960s with their idyllic dream, but the 70s and Nixon’s war on drugs caused a shift that is still felt today. The crackdown on illegal farms drove up the price of cannabis, which meant more money was to be made. Soon, it wasn’t just peaceful hippies trying to make a buck, but they were joined by those with darker criminal backgrounds. Dangerous folk.

The main pull of the documentary concerns the disappearance of Garret Rodriguez, a 29-year-old surfer who went to work on a cannabis farm in Humboldt. We learn about Garret through his father and the search for answers in a town where few are willing to talk. The difficulty that police encounter is that due to the illegal nature of a lot of the farms, people involved in the cannabis industry don’t want to come forward with information. So, many families of the missing are left with no closure, and this fear has affected the townspeople. The missing may not be from the area, but there are plenty of locals who feel that not enough is being done to keep people safe.

However, the town of Alderpoint has a reputation for outlaws and now a growing name for vigilante justice, bringing us to the Alderpoint 8 and subsequent deaths and/or murders. This group of men decided to take the law into their own hands, causing a ripple effect, with more people ending up dead.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just leave you with the obvious: Murder Mountain is definitely worth checking out. 

There’s already talk of a second installation of Murder Mountain, with no shortage of material to cover.

MURDER MOUNTAIN is now available to stream on Netflix.

Moxie McMurder is a writer, poet, and film critic who regularly contributes to Honeysuckle Magazine. Based in the UK, she is the staff film critic for Garden City Cinema. The founder of Lead Jammer Magazine, Moxie’s work has also been featured frequently on MoviePilot and Medium. She is the author of the novella Blood Sings. Visit her blogs Moxie McMurder and A Shared Madness, and follow her on Twitter to learn more. 

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