Devil’s Knot is a 2013 biographical crime-drama thriller film directed by Atom Egoyan. The film is based on a true story as told in Mara Leveritt’s 2002 book of the same name, concerning three teenagers known as the West Memphis Three, who were convicted for killing three young boys and subsequently sentenced to life in prison. The movie stars Reese Witherspoon, Kevin Durand, Stephen Moyer, Colin Firth, Elias Koteas and Bruce Greenwood. It had a limited release in Canadian theatres on January 24, 2014, and will be released in U.S. theaters and Video on demand (VOD) services on May 9, 2014.
In 1993, in the lower-class community of West Memphis, Arkansas, three eight-year-old boys – Stevie Branch (Jurgensmeyer), Christopher Byers (Spink), and Michael Moore (Boardman Jr.) – go missing from their neighborhood. After an extensive search, their bound and beaten bodies are found the next day. The community and the police department are convinced that the murders are the work of a satanic cult due to the violent and sexual natures of the crime. A month later, three teenagers – Damien Echols (Hamrick), Jason Baldwin (Meriwether), and Jessie Misskelley Jr. (Higgins) – are arrested after Misskelley confesses after approximately four hours of interrogation. They are taken to trial where Baldwin and Misskelley are sentenced to life and Echols to death all while still claiming they’re innocent…
” … while Egoyan and Co. are to be commended for doing a tactful, dignified job with material that could have made for a ghoulish horror show, the result nevertheless comes across as a flat, ponderous proposition, transforming a fascinating tale of small-town prejudice and miscarried justice into a surprisingly staid courtroom drama.” Scott Foundas, Variety
“The plotting and pace are so scratchy as to deflate a story which, on paper, abounds in amazing revelations and horrible ironies. This is a morbid, mawkish misfire…” Catherine Shoard, The Guardian
“Tech values are consistently strong, with Mychael Danna’s score particularly effective. A closing dedication to the three murdered children is more moving than many such gestures, reminding us that while prosecutorial sins have kept this story alive as one of three teen lives stolen by the state, three even younger boys were robbed of something much greater.” John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
“Do we need a fictional version of this story? Does the Devil’s Knot add anything, be it intellectually or aesthetically to what has already been covered so extensively by other, greater works? Do we need this film? The answer, sadly, is a resolute “no”.” Jason Gorber, Twitch