I have seen 4 documentaries on the West Memphis 3 case; 3 teenagers who were convicted for killing three young boys and subsequently sentenced to life in prison. However in 2013 a feature film was also made about it although it focuses mostly on the initial case, trial and sentencing leaving a lot of the story untold. This movie is Devil’s Knot directed by award winning director Atom Egoyan and starring Reese Witherspoon, Mireille Enos, Colin Firth, Dane DeHaan, Kevin Durand, Bruce Greenwood, Stephen Moyer, Elias Koteas, Amy Ryan, and Alessandro Nivola.
What can the movie offer that the 4 well made documentaries haven’t already provided to viewers? Although I am a fan of director Egoyan and several of the actors are top class as well the movie seems like it could have best been avoided. Especially because since it’s mostly seen from the angle of the mother of one of the 8 year old boys who was brutally murdered and the private investigator helping the defendants’ lawyers with their case. Granted the documentaries focused more on the WM3 and the surroundings of the cases and that Devil’s Knot is based on the 2002 book of the same name by Mara Leveritt. In 2002 the WM3 were still in prison. Anyways the movie shows the reaction of the families, especially that of Pamela Hobbs and her second husband Terry Hobbs who was step-father to Stevie Branch, one of the murder victims.
However the movie then goes a bit more of the emotional route with focus on Pam having dreams and visions of Stevie leading to her finding her son’s pocket knife among Terry’s belongings and her suspecting him. That’s a bit of a stretch and strays from known facts about the case. I did like the portrayal of most of the actors who were in the movie – Kevin Durand was almost hilarious as the notorious John Mark Byers, Adoptive father of victim Christopher Byers. However Colin Firth’s role as the investigator Ron Lax and focus on him in a restaurant watching the case on tv is just unnecessary. I wish they would have focused more on the victims families other than Pam, Terry & Byers and also shown more about the WM3 – more on their lives. Instead we have what seems like clips of things happening in the case that are collected without much cohesion.
I’d give this movie a 6.5 outta 10 but I hope that anyone who watches this will also go and check out the 4 documentaries that were able to go into much greater depth & detail on the case of the West Memphis 3.