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Review: 'Nightmare in Las Cruces'

May 13, 2010

'A Nightmare in Las Cruces'

One of the worst crimes in New Mexico history — an early 1990 robbery and execution-style mass murder at a Las Cruces bowling alley — remains unsolved 20 years later. But it's the hope of filmmaker Charlie Minn that his self-distributed documentary, "A Nightmare in Las Cruces," might breathe new life into this stone-cold case. Whatever the outcome, Minn has done a creditable job recounting the details of this heinous event and probing its haunting aftermath.

Straightforward and deftly assembled, the film mixes archival news clips, actual crime-scene footage and reenactments of the crime itself with a host of candid, highly personal interviews with the massacre's survivors, the victims' families and the case's various investigators. Minn's questioning of still-traumatized survivors Melissia Repass (shot in the head, the then-12-year-old managed to call 911 from the bowling alley office the two gunmen set ablaze) and former snack bar cook Ida Holguin, now 53, provide some of the movie's most genuinely powerful moments, as do conversations with women who both lost their children (one also lost her husband) in the massacre.

"Nightmare" tries its best to illuminate the vanished murderers' possible motive, theories on which range from random robbery to drug-related hit, but that continues to be the most mysterious piece of this horrific puzzle.

— Gary Goldstein

"A Nightmare in Las Cruces." MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes. At the Beverly Center 13, West Hollywood.

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