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I am a big fan of Canadian Director Atom Egoyan. Not only is THE SWEET HEREAFTER (1997) one of my favorite films of all time but he’s one of the few directors whose movies I will watch regardless of their subject matter. So it was with dismay that DEVIL’S KNOT was not up to the caliber of filmmaking that I’m used to from him.
Based on the real-life case of the “West Memphis Three,” DEVIL’S KNOT dramatizes the events of three young boys who were murdered in what appeared to be a ritualistic manner and the media circus that followed when three teens were charged with their deaths.
Satanism, witchcraft and heavy metal music were cited as cornerstones of the shoddy case against the three and public opinion was used against them in a trial based almost solely on circumstantial evidence.
With a dream-team cast that includes Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Amy Ryan, Mireille Enos, Dane DeHaan, Elias Koteas and Bruce Davison to name a few, the film unfortunately never rises above LIFETIME movie quality.
The performances are great but they are wasted amidst a lethargic pace that plods around with seemingly no focus.
My biggest complaint is the almost total lack of mood. It’s well shot but there isn’t any depth or tone to the image and looks and feels terribly generic.
Not having seen the trilogy of PARADISE LOST documentaries that have picked through every aspect of the case, I didn’t know the specifics of what was happening or the outcome of the case. But with that said, I found DEVIL’S KNOT to be extremely superficial on a case that has incited debate and scrutiny for over two decades.
The only thing the movie truly accomplished for me was to make me want to watch the PARADIS LOST documentaries to get a real understanding of the events. Sadly, DEVIL’S KNOT is an Egoyan film worth skipping.