Though Ruby Ridge relies on standard documentary scare gimmicks—music like a heartbeat, eerie shots of props, like a rocking chair—the Discovery Times Channel pulls off its treatment of the highly charged event, the significance of which many news outlets underestimated at the time. They do well to rehearse the bare facts of the case at this remove; for years, legends have been growing around the case, and Ruby Ridge is an attempt to set the record straight.
The documentary's chief asset is its long interviews at Ruby Ridge with Weaver and his daughter Rachel. Weaver is no longer the skinny, defiant convict of 1992 newsreels; he's now a silver-haired widower who looks a little like a clean-shaven Charles Bronson. Rachel Weaver is a sweet-looking and well-spoken teenage girl who remembers both her late brother and her early childhood with fondness. In explanation of the 1992 hold-out, Rachel says, "It wasn't just Dad. It was our whole family. And we didn't want to go down because we figured they'd put him in jail for, you know, sawn-off shotguns and we'd rather, you know, stay on the mountain and live with our family, you know, happily than have it be torn apart. I guess that backfired."