Cinematic Releases: Devil's Knot

The West Memphis Three get no justice in Devil's Knot.

"How did I end up here?"

Eccentric director Atom Egoyan takes one of the most divisive criminal cases of modern history and turns in an unfocused feature length effort that has the unintentional markings of an inexperienced film school grad much less a man of his typical caliber. Even more, Devil's Knot stars a stellar cast that can't push beyond a lackluster script and a disingenuous amalgamation of emotionally vacant performances.

Devil's Knot tells the disturbing story of the West Memphis Three with such a bone dry delivery that anyone not familiar with the case will be bored to tears with this amateur attempt at capturing the one trial that defines our slanted modern justice system. Three boys were murdered sending three socially inept teens to prison with no real proof of their guilt other than rough looks and a love for heavy metal. Yet, Devil's Knot doesn't do much to convince viewers of their innocence other than a few concluding seconds that further point the finger at the obvious true killer, Terry Hobbs.

The case of the West Memphis Three was already told over the course of the three (much better) Paradise Lost documentaries and Amy Berg's 2012 film, West of Memphis. Details of this railroaded form of justice have been highly publicized for years with a seething public outcry and the Hollywood elite going to bat for the three convicted felons. Somehow this dramatized version doesn't capture the essence of the story and skims over the strange behavior of resident loon John Mark Byers and drunken serial abuser Terry Hobbs.

"Everybody in this movie LOVES
the taste of fingers!"
The three boys that died that day deserve much better than Devil's Knot. Their sad story and untimely demise at the hands of true human evil should have been given a bigger budget, better direction, and more careful attention paid to the curious details that surround the case. This movie skims over clues and offers minute glances at intriguing case points while never allowing viewers enough time to process the real story behind the case of the WM3 and the way an unrelenting legal system manipulated, lied, and managed to lose every bit of evidence that would have proven their innocence.

If you've followed the murders at Robin Hood Hills and the WM3, watch this for another look at the misguided handling of three innocent teenage boys. It will further instill fear of our broken judicial system. If you're new to the case, make sure to check out the documentaries first. They'll give you a better understanding of how three young boys died, how three went to prison, and how a guilty man still walks free despite evidence that points the finger directly at him.

-Chris George