DEVIL’S KNOT | MOVIE REVIEW

DEVIL’S KNOT is the dramatic re-telling of the “Memphis Three'” – it is about the horrendous and evil murder of three young children in 1993 and the subsequent farce trial that saw three oddball goth devil worshiping teenagers sent to jail for 18yrs for sticking it to their religious bible-belt town. In 2011 these (no longer) teens were released from jail. The true killers have never been found and the murders are still one of the most despicable acts of hatred and sexual brutality ever seen in America. It is a case that makes me sick just thinking about it. There have been a few documentaries about the story, most notably WEST OF MEMPHIS and Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s PARADISE LOST. Icon Film Distribution brings this all-star cast version to the big screen. It releases this Thursday 24th July at most art-house cinemas (definitely Dendy and Palace), it runs for 114mins and is rated M.

 

DEVIL'S KNOT MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
DEVIL’S KNOT | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY JASON KING

I have to be honest, this film tries but falls flat on nearly every front. The story is horrendous by its very nature and the case, the events, the town, everything involved is so complex, how they imagined to tell it in under two hours is beyond me. I would highly recommend the other documentaries mentioned above but at the same time would suggest you leave this one for DVD.

Why is it a mess? 1) As mentioned there is so much to put in, how do you decide what is more or less important in the telling? 2) No one knows the ending, or more no one making the film knows the ending, there are a bunch of fucking animals out in the world who I hope I meet when I get to hell, because I am going to be in the front row of their eternal torture and will gladly tear their soul to pieces for eternity 3) Speculation – director Atom Egoyan, can only guess or hint at other possibilities in the case as opposed to the three teens convicted. Was it the stepfather? was it the family friend? Was it the religious freakishness of many of the townsfolk? Was it actually the three teens and we will never know? Sure he is basing his speculation on hearsay and suspicions from years of the legal battles and rumours but speculation none-the-less 4) Perspective – the film is from no-one’s point of view, it is basically dramatising the entire events as a whole, due to this you aren’t watching a movie, you have no one to side with, besides the deceased kids, and you, or more I, got bored and started tweeting, this is not good (on a side note I was viewing a screener at home and not doing this in a cinema.)

 

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DEVIL’S KNOT | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | PAM HOBBS (REESE WITHERSPOON) AND TERRY HOBBS (ALESSANDRO NIVOLA)

 

The film lacks tension and it also lacks the sickening feeling that should be carried through a film like this. Besides the horrifying scene of a naked and bound dead child being removed from a creek that had me covering my face and shedding a tear we never experience that horror in our thoughts, that one scene though, is a scene I wish I never saw, how does someone recover from an evil like this?

Due to the amount of characters, suspicion and speculation, this film would have been better served as a mini series, that could have had more time to develop characters and delve a little more into the speculation. It is not that Egoyan does a bad job, he just did too much that the film lost its purpose and soul, by the end I was wishing I had seen the documentary on the actual facts instead of this attempted dramatisation.

 

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DEVIL’S KNOT | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | RON LAX (COLIN FIRTH) AND DAMIAN ECHOLS (JAMES HAMRICK)

 

I can’t actually blame any of the actors, the cast is incredible and they do bring their best to less than developed characters. Reese Witherspoon is just excellent as Pam Hobbs and owns the character, but like everyone else in the film she is only a player and part of an ensemble. I could have watched an entire film from Pam’s perspective. Likewise her husband, Terry Hobbs, played by Alessandro Nivola. He is the guy that was a possible alternate suspect in the murder of the three kids, also the stepfather to Pam’s boy, brutally murdered Stevie Branch. The film alludes suspicion towards Terry a couple of times. There is also Chris Morgan, played by my future lover and one of my favourite actors on the planet at the moment, Dane DeHaan. He is like a family friend, who appeared pointless in the story besides another possible suspect that was thrown in a couple of times to show “reasonable doubt.’

But most of all, Colin Firth, while he nails the accent and provides his usually awesome screen presence, and his character Ron Lax is integral to uncovering more suspicion against the legal charade, his entire character just came across as useless and nearly pointless to the story. I suppose if this was a Hollywood story they were telling, he would be the guy who caught the real killer, the hero if you will, but as no one has ever caught the killer or beyond reasonable doubt proved who killed the kidlets then he will appear as unsuccessful and nearly irrelevant to the tale. Special mention must go to James Hamrick as Damien Echols, besides the kidlets, he was the one character I fully empathised with. I can understand being judged for being different, it never cost me a ruined life and 18yrs in jail and if he truly is innocent, this is an injustice that is unforgivable, especially when you consider the way this case was handled, he had no chance because he didn’t fit the town’s social norm, ‘he listens to death metal and worships satan, let’s hang the bastard out to dry.’

 

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DEVIL’S KNOT | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | DAMIEN ECHOLS (JAMES HAMRICK)

 

The worst part of this entire reality is that justice has still not been served to innocent tiny humans that another thing took from this world. You fucking monster/s whoever you are. It is events like this, the recent plane being shot down, the tragedy going on in other parts of the world and a growing list of atrocities that make me believe we do not deserve to exist as a species.

I can only suggest that you be prepared for a harrowing scene in this movie, if you want a dramatisation, then you may enjoy this, but if you want a superb film about the situation I suggest you hit up WEST OF MEMPHIS instead.

 

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