First ‘Devil’s Knot’ Trailer Promises Star-Studded Take on the West Memphis Three

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Hollywood has a long history of embarking on projects that may be best described as “biting off more than they can chew.” Devil’s Knot, the upcoming film from Atom Egoyan, may very well be one such project. The tale of the West Memphis Three is one of the harrowing, strange, and awful tales to shake our nation in the last half century, and it has taken volumes of books and multiple documentaries to examine the countless layers surrounding the truth. To imagine all of that being shrunken into 120 minutes is more terrifying than promising, but in 2014 we’ll see what happens when a slew of your favorite celebrities try and make it happen.

Featuring Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Dane DeHaan, Mireille Enos, Bruce Greenwood, Elias Koteas, Stephen Moyer and Amy Ryan (just to name a few), Devil’s Knot is a film you will no doubt be hearing a lot about in the months to come. It originally premiered at TIFF in October to strong buzz and mixed reviews, but like all big festival films it will be well into 2014 before most of us see what Egoyan has put together. The first trailer hit the net this week, and those of you curious to see what’s in the works can view that clip at the end of this post.

The official synopsis for Devil’s Knot is a bit lengthy, so we’ve included it after the video for anyone seeking more information on the film. There is no current US release date for the film, but we’re willing to bet a mid-spring or late summer date wouldn’t be a bad guess.

Atom Egoyan dramatizes the fallout from the notorious 1993 West Memphis murders, focusing on the grieving mother (Reese Witherspoon) of one of the murdered boys as she grows increasingly troubled by the lynch-mob fever that grips the town.

When three young boys were brutally murdered in the small community of West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1993, their deaths led to shock and outrage in this tightly knit religious town. It wasn’t long before three teenagers were arrested, tried, and sentenced — two of them to life imprisonment and one to death — despite the fact that they all claimed innocence. This story of wrongful conviction roiled the American justice system, brought a number of prominent movie stars and rock musicians to the defence of the three young men, and resulted in a trilogy of documentaries, Paradise Lost, that did much to keep the case in the public eye.

Atom Egoyan has revisited the story of the West Memphis Three and dramatized it for the screen in a film as compelling and disturbing as the truth itself. Egoyan is a master at telling tales about deeply misunderstood outsiders, their families and communities, and their darkest fantasies. In Devil’s Knot Egoyan is completely at home sketching the small-town lives of ordinary people befuddled and angered by the senseless killing in their ostensibly safe town. Reese Witherspoon plays Pam Hobbs, mother of one of the murdered boys, whose grief and shock is palpably felt and subtly depicted. Into her life comes Ron Lax (Colin Firth, also at the Festival in The Railway Man), a private investigator for whom the sum of the case’s parts doesn’t quite add up, and who is driven to get at the truth.

While much of Devil’s Knot focuses on the adults embroiled in the case, Egoyan is also highly sensitive to the young accused, whose lives are shattered by the deaths and who must face the scorn of the town. The three are cast by a series of witnesses as deviant satanic cultists, as all sense of justice and proportion is abandoned in the rush for a convenient scapegoat.


James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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