Witch Hunt follows the cases of a number of individuals who were wrongfully jailed for child molestation. Narrated by Executive Producer Sean Penn, this matter-of-fact doc tells of social workers coercing children to testify against their parents, prosecutors zealously trumping up charges and judges giving multi-century sentences to the convicted.

While the story is certainly provocative, and the miscarriage of justice a tragedy, the film does a very poor job of contextualizing the decisions that resulted in these convictions, nor does it give any real attempt to relay the factors that drove the prosecution in the first place. The film works best, in fact, when the officers who do decide to go on camera discuss the fact that there need not be a conspiracy for such actions to have been taken, that the miscarriage was brought about by incompetence and a lack of training, not maliciousness or evil. This hardly makes up for the twenty years that some suffered in prison, naturally, but for the doc’s sake, it’s a nice respite from the repetitive, didactic tone of the rest of the film.

Stretched to theatrical length with an ending that seems interminable, this is a formidable subject to be tackled, yet it is tackled poorly. Special mention must be made of the plinky, grating guitar music that’s meant to invoke mood, and instead invokes mere annoyance.