There is no case more controversial than that of the West Memphis Three. Over the years there have been numerous documentaries following the story and an unbelievable campaign to release them. Now the new film, Devil’s Knot is looking to bring the story to the big screen featuring a great cast including Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Dane DeHaan, Mireille Enos, Kevin Durand, Stephen Moyer, and Elias Koteas but does it manage to capture the tragedy and importance of this case?
Devil’s Knot follows the savage murders of three young children that sparks a controversial trial of three teenagers accused of killing the kids as part of a satanic ritual. This is one of those stories that has so many different sides to contend with it is a bit hard to really make it work for everyone. Thankfully with this film they try to use the facts and keep it running down the middle so that it remains neutral to telling the story as opposed to just preaching their own beliefs. This is a tragic story on numerous accounts but mostly due to the graphic nature of the murders of these young boys. When dealing with this topic it is always a thin line to walk to tell the story and bad taste. To really get the impact needed you have to get a bit graphic and they do so here. IT never crosses the line to tasteless but there are some visuals that are a bit disturbing but almost seem necessary for this films impact to work. The cast all do a great job and while Firth and Witherspoon are the clear leads here, the supporting cast all get their time to shine with poignant moments that lend to the overall story. There are aspects that could have worked a lot better in regards to the editing and pacing as it sometimes slows to a crawl and doesn’t seem to really build to anything. Thankfully it tends to finds its way back most of the time on track and moves it forward well enough. The production value on the film is ok, but feels more like a made for TV movie than a bigger release which is a shame as had it taken a more gritty approach to the look it would have packed more of a punch.
This story has been a great debate for years and while they have been released now it will likely continue to be so. They do a great job with both sides of the coin here while never cluttering it up with fully standing on one side, but clearly maintaining the belief of these boys innocence. This is one of those films that will resonate more with people familiar with the case, but for those that aren’t fully in the know will offer them a chance to get a little more insight to it all. We may never know the full truth, but this film once again clearly shows that there was never full proof of the crime and that there are so many mistakes and variables that make it ever more a tragedy beyond just the vicious murders.
Step into the case of the West Memphis Three when Devil’s Knot comes to Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Download on June 10th.