If you are not familiar with the West Memphis, Arkansas, murders of three 8-year boys which took place in 1993, I would suggest that you have lived in a cave for the last 20 years; but even you have, now is the time to bring yourself up to date with Director Atom Egoyan’s the “Devil’s Knot.”
In 1993 I was making my sales rounds in Memphis when the horrifying news came over the radio about the murders of three little boys in the woods of West Memphis; and the “Devil’s Knot” tries to recount the nightmare in a fairly effective way. Private investigator Ron Lax (Colin Firth – The King’s Speech) receives the news of the gruesome murders in much the same way I did, and after finding out that three teenaged so-called Satanists had been charged with the crime, he decides that he needs to get involved. The motive for his actions is that the three young men who have been arrested are certain prospects for lethal injection, so that if there is any chance they did not do it, someone needs to know.
Lax joins up with the legal team attempting to defend the so-called perpetrators and in the process a series of inconsistencies are revealed. The police and prosecutors play up the “Satan did it angle,” but things just don’t make sense. One of the mothers of the children murdered (Reese Witherspoon), who at first is completely on board for quick convictions of the accused, begins to have questions of her own after hearing conflicting testimonies which just don’t add up.
Firth and Witherspoon prove why they are top notch talent once again. Most viewers will hardly recognize Firth, with his Memphis mustache and Bible Belt accent, and Witherspoon is terrific as the horrified mother of a child who has been murdered ─ and then has doubts of her own. Although the movie is not as informative as some of the many documentaries that have covered this subject matter, this is a good Hollywood accounting of the event.
My Rating: 3 of 5 Memphis Murders.