Here are the facts as they are known: In May of 1993, three young boys were found murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas. Subsequently, three local teenagers were tried and convicted for the crime despite faulty and often presumptuous evidence. As they began life sentences, outside sources began to question the West Memphis Three’s guilt – eventually leading to their release from prison in 2011.
Behind these facts lies a story of paranoia, religious panic, knee-jerk judgment, and the unimaginable horror of losing a child. Based on the popular true crime book by Mara Leveritt, the new drama Devil’s Knot spins this tale from the points of view of a mother torn by grief and a private investigator out to uncover what truly happened in West Memphis.
Devil’s Knot stars Reese Witherspoon (Inherent Vice), Colin Firth (The Railway Man), Elias Koteas (The Killing), Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), and Kevin Durand (Noah). The film is directed by Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter).
The first trailer for Devil’s Knot shows off what appears to be a well-shot, dramatically intense movie. That said, the film has a major hurdle to leap right out of the gate: What more can it say about a case that has already been so thoroughly documented? After all, the subject of the West Memphis Three has already been given extensive cinematic treatment, most notably via the Paradise Lost trilogy of documentary films.
Additionally, early reviews of Devil’s Knot from the festival circuit have not been especially kind, often describing the film as too measured and prosaic to capture the fear and outrage that boiled over during the case. Whether this will hold as the prevailing critical consensus must wait until Devil’s Knot‘s wider release in May.
The Devil’s Knot will debut in US theaters on May 9th, 2014.