Michael Jackson. Picture: AP
Michael Jackson. Picture: AP

‘A horror film’: Michael Jackson abuse doco shocks

Critics have been left shaken after the world premiere of Leaving Neverland, with the documentary so sexually explicit counsellors were on hand to support the audience after the viewing.

On Friday the Sundance Film Festival premiered the controversial new documentary, which airs allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Jackson.

The four hour documentary, which was shown in two parts, detailed the accounts of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who both claim they were abused as boys by the singer.

Jackson repeatedly denied allegations of sexual abuse during his lifetime and was acquitted of child molestation criminal charges in 2005.

US Weekly film critic Mara Reinstein tweeted that she was "shaking" after watching Leaving Neverland, claiming Jackson "was a paedophile".

Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeff Wells described Leaving Neverland as a "horror film" with Robson and Safechuck "obviously believable".

USA Today's Patrick Ryan said there were "many common parallels in victims stories" and "disturbing revelations", including one allegation that Jackson bough a boy jewellery "in exchange for sex acts".

The Daily Beast's Kevin Fallon described the content as "more disturbing than you could imagine".

Many other critics noted the presence of health workers outside the theatre to counsel viewers if needed and warnings that the documentary contained explicit content.

After the film Robson and Safechuck held a question-and-answer session with the audience, with critics tweeting the pair had spoken about how difficult sharing their story had been.

Despite initial fears from police the premiere would be protested by fans of the late pop star, only a handful of people turned out in person to picket the screening.

Police and dogs easily outnumbered the protesters, with the documentary's audience going through intense security screening before they were allowed in the theatre.

Instead Jackson's supporters took their dissent online, disputing critic claims that Leaving Neverland detailed credible victims' stories.

The documentary's IMDB page was also hacked, with Leaving Neverland changed to Liar, Liar 2: The Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck Story, Variety reported.

The Jackson estate has released a statement saying the documentary is "just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations".

"Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them," the statement said.

"This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson."


Robson testified that Jackson never molested him at the singer's 2005 trial, but claims in Leaving Neverland he only did so because he was scared of what would happen if he told the truth, TMZ reports.

Safechuck gave similar evidence to police investigators when he was a boy but did not testify at the 2005 trial.

Both Robson and Safechuck filed lawsuits claiming they were sexually abused by Jackson following his 2009 death, however, both were dismissed after a judge said they had been filed too late.

Jackson settled financially with another accuser, Jordan Chandler, in 1994.

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