Hell-bent on a verdict…
Devil’s Knot is a slightly fictionalized account of a famous triple murder that happened in West Memphis, Arkansas back in 1993. Three young men were convicted of killing three small children and much of the evidence presented in court was testimony that the alleged perpetrators were young, listened to heavy metal music and had an interest in the occult…along with about 10,000,000 other teens at that time! The film talks a lot about the conflicting evidence, recanted testimony and holes in the case. And, it gives two other possible perpetrators who were never prosecuted. But, because the community was looking for convictions and because there was a strong cultural belief in the existence of satanic murder cults, folks seemed more than willing to see these three teens convicted … and so they were.
The film does work very well in convincing the audience and providing an entertaining film. Your heart will certainly get caught up in the film and it will have a strong impact on viewers. The director, production staff and everyone associated with the film did quite well. When it comes to the acting, it was also very good all around. I was particularly impressed by Colin Firth–who sounded amazingly NON-British in the movie. This came as a bit surprise.
If you are looking for a thorough examination of the killings, the folks involved and subsequent trial, this film may leave you a bit cold, unfortunately. For dramatic reasons, the film chose to focus on one particular mother (probably because she was played by Reese Witherspoon) and completely ignored the other two grieving families–a very, very odd omission to say the least and something that seems a bit offensive.
If you are interested in all the details of the case, then see Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory—three documentaries about the infamous ‘Memphis Three’ directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
Overall, the movie is a good, well-constructed drama and a reasonably fair representation of the case–albeit far from a perfect one. It’s worth seeing and entertaining but not a film for kids to see because of the subject matter. And, if you do watch, you might want to keep some Kleenex handy … it has a few gut-wrenching moments.
Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer
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