Director: Atom Egoyan
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth
Genre: Crime Drama, Thriller
Country of Origin: USA 2013 114 mins.
Released by ENTERTAINMENT FILM DISTRIBUTORS
Who killed three eight year-old boys on the 5th May 1993 in the small American southern town of West Memphis, Arkansas? Their naked bodies were found submerged in a stream bound from ankle to wrist with their shoelaces. The police were baffled and one month after the killings they arrested three teenagers, all social outsiders - eighteen year-old Damien Echols (James Hamrick), seventeen year-old Jessie Misskelley Jr. (Kristopher Higgins), and sixteen year-old Jason Baldwin (Set Meriwether) who became known as the 'West Memphis Three'. There was no physical evidence but the prosecution said that the accused were part of a satanic cult and the murders bore the signs of a ritualistic killing. The defendants find themselves up against small town mob mass hysteria and the community, police and judiciary convinced that the murders were part of a satanic occult ritual.
Ron Lax (Colin Firth), a local private investigator and Pam Hobbs (Reese Witherspoon), the mother of one of the murdered boys, come to suspect that it's not as it appears and while the police insist on the satanic link, they have deeper suspicions. Has there been a miscarriage of justice?
The film focuses on the events leading up to the 1994 trials and life convictions for Jessie Misskelly and Jason Baldwin and death sentence for Damien Echols and plods through an already well documented case.
'Devil's Knot' is a feature film court room drama addition to Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's 'Paradise Lost' with the unbelievable presiding Judge David Burnett (Bruce Greenwood) who needs to be seen and heard to be believed presiding over a sad and farcical mockery of justice. Colin Firth seems superfluous at times and not too comfortable with his southern accent but with him and Reese Witherspoon it should do well at the box office. A more interesting thread would have been to pursue the period after the trial when further investigations and DNA evidence implicating Terry Hobbs (Alessandro Nivola) began moves towards dismantling the prosecutions case which led to the Arkansas Supreme Court to reconsider the case of the 'West Memphis Three'.