13 Jun Devil’s Knot Review
A valiant effort by veteran director, Atom Egoyan.
Based on the 2002 true crime novel of the same name, Devil’s Knot tells the story of the now infamous trial of the West Memphis Three, a group of three teenage boys accused of the brutal murders of three young boys in the name of satanic ritual in 1993. The murders shook the small town of West Memphis, Arkansas, whipping its citizens into a frenzy of fire and brimstone, often referred to as “Satanic Panic” in literature discussing the case.
While the controversial story has spurned many interpretations, both literary and cinematic, director Atom Egoyan’s Devil’s Knot is the first dramatized feature film to tackle the material. Starring Academy Award winners Colin Firth, as the case’s headstrong investigator, and Reese Witherspoon, as the distraught mother of victim Stevie Branch, Devil’s Knot attempts to explore the complexities of the case and touch on the reality of the unending struggle faced by both the victims’ families and the accused.
Though Egoyan’s film does not do much to reveal new or interesting information about the West Memphis Three, it does strive to shed light on the inconsistencies of the ongoing case. The film focuses less on the presumed innocence of the three accused and more on the overall landscape of the trial. Yet, despite Egoyan’s best effort to craft a gripping retelling, it’s certainly a story that we’ve seen and heard before. This rehashing may feel a bit uninspired at times, but is elevated by a few key performances.
Casting is perhaps the film’s biggest strength. Firth is solid in his role and Witherspoon easily channels her Southern roots to portray the grieving, yet acutely aware Pamela Hobbs. While the story could have benefited from deeper characterization and a more focused aim, the inherently compelling nature of its events make for an enjoyable 114 minutes. For those that are interested in the West Memphis Three and have followed the strange progression of the case, Devil’s Knot is certainly worth the watch.
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This guest blog was written by Colleen Shields.