‘Unbearable’ murder film slammed
The grainy footage of a two-year-old James Bulger walking hand-in-hand with one of his baby-faced killers still sends chills down the spines of anyone who remembers the horrifying murder.
The story of the English boy lured to his death by two 10-year-old children stunned the world in 1993 - and is no less horrifying today, almost 26 years on.
The little boy's mother only took her eyes off her son for a moment during a shopping centre outing - but it was long enough for Robert Thompson and Jon Venables to pounce.
The child's mutilated body was found on railway tracks two days after his disappearance, and his young killers were charged eight days after the crime.
It went on to become one of the most infamous crimes to ever take place, due to the savagery of the murder and the culprits' astoundingly young ages.
But now a new film aims to show the "human side" of the child murderers.
The 30-minute short film, Detainment, is directed by Vincent Lambe and is already creating Oscars buzz, having been short-listed for an Academy Award in the Live Action Short Film category.
It centres on the detainment and questioning of Thompson and Venables, using child actors to recreate real police interviews with the pair.
"A lot of people might feel it's wrong to humanise those boys but I think if people can't accept the fact that they were human beings they will never be able to begin to understand," The Sun reported Lambe as saying.
"And the only way to prevent something like this happening again in the future is to understand the cause of it."
But James Bulger's parents Ralph Bulger and Denise Fergus have both slammed the film, revealing they were never approached by the director.
"It has been 26 years since my son was taken and murdered and so I have seen many documentaries and news stories about him.
"But I have never been so cut up and offended by something that shows so little compassion to James and his family … to make a film so sympathetic to James's killers is devastating."
Mr Bulger said it would be "horrific" if the film won an Oscar - a sentiment shared by former police chief Albert Kirby, who led the investigation into the boy's death.
"I think it lacks any form of taste or decency and has been made without any consideration of the effect on Denise, the family and also any number of other people who were involved in the sensitive issues of the investigation," he told the publication.
Ms Fergus has also publicly condemned the movie, calling for a boycott during a recent appearance on UK TV chat show Loose Women.
"In my own personal opinion I think he's just trying to big his career up and to do that under someone else's grief is so unbelievable and unbearable, especially for the family," she said on the program.
Lambe has offered to donate proceedings from the film's screenings to the Bulger family, but the offer has been refused.
When Venables and Thompson were found guilty in November 1993, they became the youngest convicted murderers in modern English history.
They were released on licence in 2001 after serving eight years for the murder and were both given new identities.
Thompson has kept a low profile ever since but Venables has been returned to prison twice for child pornography-related offences.