Here’s an unexpected pleasure: This Canadian-made TV movie, based on a real-life crime and its aftermath, features no big names but hits hard. It’s about Bruce Curtis (Simon Reynolds), a smart, quiet, slightly moony student in a Nova Scotia boarding school, and the odd-couple friendship this teenager struck up with an obstreperous classmate, Scott Franz (Jaimz Woolvett).

In 1982, Scott brought Bruce to his New Jersey home for a holiday weekend; before it was over, Scott’s mother and stepfather were shot dead. Journey Into Darkness is an account of the young men’s arrests and separate trials. The movie, working from a script by Keith Ross Leckie, suggests that Bruce was innocent but destined for conviction when the prosecution introduced pages from his diary into evidence. These entries were filled with adolescent angst and overwrought fantasies — ”I was trying to be like Kafka,” says the owlish Bruce in his trial testimony — and the movie’s implication is that the jury didn’t understand the difference between a young intellectual’s daydreams and a confession of guilt. Journey Into Darkness conveys a novel message: If people were better educated, our justice system might work more efficiently. A-