6.1/10
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74 user 159 critic

Devil's Knot (2013)

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The savage murders of three young children sparks a controversial trial of three teenagers accused of killing the kids as part of a Satanic ritual.

Director:

Atom Egoyan

Writers:

Paul Harris Boardman (screenplay), Scott Derrickson (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
3,995 ( 698)
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Reese Witherspoon ... Pam Hobbs
Colin Firth ... Ron Lax
Alessandro Nivola ... Terry Hobbs
James Hamrick ... Damien Echols
Seth Meriwether ... Jason Baldwin
Kristopher Higgins ... Jessie Misskelley (as Kris Higgins)
Amy Ryan ... Margaret Lax
Robert Baker ... Detective Bryan Ridge
Collette Wolfe ... Glori Shettles
Rex Linn ... Chief Inspector Gitchell
Bruce Greenwood ... Judge Burnett
Kristoffer Polaha ... Val Price
Matt Letscher ... Paul Ford
Michael Gladis ... Dan Stidham
Stephen Moyer ... John Fogleman
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Storyline

Based on the actual events of the West Memphis Three, where three young boys were savagely murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993. Spurred on by the demand from a grieving town, the local police act quickly to bring three "devil-worshipping" teenagers to trial. With their lives hanging in the balance, investigator Ron Lax is trying to find the truth between the town's need for justice and the guilt of the accused. Written by Anne Campbell

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They say the crimes were satanic. The truth may be scarier. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site [Japan]

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 March 2014 (Philippines) See more »

Also Known As:

Condenados See more »

Filming Locations:

Morrow, Georgia, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Datasat | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Reese Witherspoon was eight months pregnant with her third child during filming. See more »

Goofs

Pam and her husband Terry drive up to the dead end road where all the first responders are gathered, to find out the news that they have found the dead bodies of the 3 missing boys. There are 2 actors walking right behind Pam (Reese Witherspoon) as she is walking up the police, then standing right behind her when she hears the news. Upon hearing the news that her son's body was found, Pam faints and the man and women standing behind her catch her and help her to the ground. But a split second before Pam falls to the ground, the male actor on the left braces for her fall and puts his hand on Pam's (Reese's) back to help her, before she actually falls. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Stevie Branch: [sings] Well, that's all right, mama / That's all right for you / That's all right, mama, just any way you do.
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Connections

Features Race with the Devil (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

Alter of Sacrifice
Written by Jeff Hanneman (as Jeffery John Hanneman) and Kerry King
Performed by Slayer
Courtesy of American Recordings, LLC
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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User Reviews

 
A respectful but overly restrained dramatisation of true events - the real story is far more devilish and knotty than the film suggests.
16 May 2014 | by shawneofthedeadSee all my reviews

For decades now, Hollywood has been mining the headlines for inspiration. It was only a matter of time before studio executives turned their attention to the West Memphis Three: a trio of teenagers who were convicted - most likely wrongfully - of murdering three young boys and sentenced to life in prison. You might imagine that the resulting movie would be every bit as disturbing, tragic and thought- provoking as the actual case itself. But Devil's Knot is more respectful than effective as a film, covering the facts without really getting to the heart of the matter.

On a summer day like any other, Pam Hobbs (Reese Witherspoon) waves goodbye to her little boy Steve as he heads off on his bike with his two friends. It would be the last time she sees him alive. When three bodies turn up in a rain-washed river, the local authorities conclude that the murders bear shades of a Satanic ritual. As a result, other leads - a bloodied man stumbling into a diner near the scene of the crime, a young man (Dane DeHaan) with an odd interest in the boys - fall by the wayside. Instead, three teenagers with an interest in the occult - Damien Echols (James Hamrick), Jason Baldwin (Seth Meriwether) and Jessie Misskelley Jr. (Kristopher Higgins) - become the targets of a community and legal system eager to find answers, even if it means looking in all the wrong places.

It's easy to see why these murders, which took place in 1993, have remained so compelling and fascinating, even twenty years later. Mixed up in the heartbreakingly tragic loss of three young lives are weighty themes of prejudice, religious bias and the miscarriage of justice. With new leads consistently popping up that continue to throw the original judicial decision into doubt, it's small wonder that private investigators like Ron Lax (played by a rather miscast Colin Firth in the film) find themselves turning over and over the facts of the case, trying to figure out how the police narrowed their search in a way that seemed to lead to obvious - and likely erroneous - conclusions.

But Atom Egoyan's film never really delves into the horror and humanity of the story it wants to tell. At some point along the way, the film shifts into documentary mode, hitting the story beats but never really finding its heart. There are a couple of emotional moments that come courtesy of Witherspoon's shell-shocked Pam, but very little insight is otherwise provided into the psyches of the characters. We spend hardly any time with the parents of the other two victims, and we're never really given the opportunity to come to grips with the seemingly stone-cold Damien or his two alleged accomplices - a befuddled Jason and a haplessly confused Jessie.

For anyone unfamiliar with the West Memphis Three, Devil's Knot will serve as a good enough primer: it's a dutiful version of the story, with the bare facts alone capable of chilling most people to the bone. But anyone who's more interested in the twists, turns, implications and consequences of the case might be better served by looking elsewhere. There are a few actual documentaries out there - the Paradise Lost series and West Of Memphis (produced by Peter Jackson) - that are considerably more incisive in their approach to these murders.


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