Title: Devil’s Knot
Director: Atom Egoyan
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Stephen Moyer, Elias Koteas, Burce Greenwood, Kevin Durand, James Hamrick, Kristopher Higgins, Seth Meriwether
Running time: 1 hr 54 min; Unrated; In theaters 05.09.14 and VOD
Director Atom Egoyan brings us a dramatization of the ordeal involving The West Memphis Three that took place in 1993. The case about three 8 year old boys who were found nude, hogtied and drowned in a creek bed in Robin Hood Hills, Arkansas. The only culprits the police identified were three teenage boys who happened to be involved in Wicca and heavy metal music; regardless they all had alibis and witnesses to confirm their innocence. The film tells the tale from the point of view of Pam Hobbs (Reese Witherspoon), the mother of one of the victims, who wants the truth more than the conviction, and Ron Lax (Colin Firth), a private investigator set to prove the innocence of the three accused.
The Good: Acting by Firth, Witherspoon, and Hamrick who portrayed Damien Echols. The aftermath of the children’s deaths is hard to watch, but the emotion conveyed on screen by the West Memphis cops who found the bodies was haunting.
The Bad: We get title card descriptions of what happened to the real people, rather than seeing it play out on screen. The ending was cut too short. Director Egoyan never really goes balls out to point the finger at the most likely person who was involved in the murders, but the evidence was pretty apparent. I really wanted this film to be more courageous, but I guess you can seek out the 3 Paradise Lost documentaries to get a sense that more was done for the victims and the accused.
I’ve always been fascinated by this case because any regular Joe could’ve solved it within days. The police were so set on being heroes that they pointed the finger randomly and stopped looking; and since the accused were pagans, the uber-Christian town believed it. They took the coerced confession of a young man who was practically mentally retarded after grilling him for 12 hours and used it as “evidence.” All signs pointed to someone close to at least one of the boys and none of the WM3 fit that description. Whether it’s fair or not, Echols, Misskelley, and Baldwin were sort of martyrs and it totally sucks that because they went with the Alford Plea, they can’t sue the state for taking 18 years of their lives away; but at least they are now free and the inept law enforcement of one town is forever shamed in the eyes of the public.
Total Rating: B+
Reviewed by: JM Willis