Devil's Knot (film)

Devil's Knot is a 2013 American biographical crime drama film directed by Atom Egoyan. Adopted from Mara Leveritt's 2002 book of the same name, the film is about the true story of three murdered children, and the three teenagers known as the West Memphis Three who were convicted of killing them, during the Satanic ritual abuse panic. The teenagers were subsequently sentenced to death (Echols) and life imprisonment (Baldwin and Misskelley), before all were released after eighteen years.[5] Produced by Elizabeth Fowler, Richard Saperstein, Clark Peterson, Christopher Woodrow, and Paul Harris Boardman, the film stars Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Mireille Enos, Dane DeHaan, Kevin Durand, Bruce Greenwood, Stephen Moyer, Elias Koteas, Amy Ryan, and Alessandro Nivola.

Devil's Knot
Devil's Knot film poster (2013).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAtom Egoyan
Produced by
Written by
Based onDevil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three
by Mara Leveritt
Music byMychael Danna
CinematographyPaul Sarossy
Edited bySusan Shipton
Distributed byImage Entertainment[2]
Release date
  • September 8, 2013 (2013-09-08) (TIFF)
  • May 9, 2014 (2014-05-09) (theatrical, VOD)
Running time
114 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States[1]
Box office$2 million[4]

The film premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8.[6][7][8] It had a limited release in Canadian theaters on January 24, 2014,[9] and was released in U.S. theaters and video on demand services on May 9, 2014.[10]


In 1993, in the working class, deeply religious community of West Memphis, Arkansas, three eight-year-old boys – Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore – go missing from their neighborhood. After an extensive search, their bound and beaten bodies are found the next day. The community and the police department are convinced that the murders are the work of a satanic cult, due to the violent and sexual natures of the crime. A month later, three teenagers – Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. – are arrested after Misskelley confesses to the murders following 12 hours of interrogation. They are taken to trial, where Baldwin and Misskelley are sentenced to life in prison, and Echols to death, all the while proclaiming their innocence.

During the trial, the defense team's investigator, Ron Lax, uncovers evidence suggesting that the police mishandled and suppressed evidence in the case. This evidence includes blood evidence that was lost, a sighting of a never-identified man covered in blood and mud entering a restaurant near the site of the murders on the night the boys were killed, as well as a confession to the murders by a man named Chris Morgan, which may or may not have been coerced. The prosecution's two chief witnesses - a boy who claims in fantastic detail to have seen the murders and been forced to drink the victims' blood, and his mother, who claims to have heard Echolls confess - are found to be compromised. Meanwhile, Pam Hobbs, Stevie's mother, begins to suspect that her husband (and Stevie's stepfather) Terry killed the boy, especially after finding Stevie's prized Swiss Army knife in Terry's toolkit. Lax visits Pam, who expresses doubt about the verdict; Lax replies that, while he does not know who committed the murders, he knows in his heart that his clients are innocent. Soon afterward, Pam leaves her husband.

A series of title cards describe the aftermath of the trial: In August 2011, after nearly 20 years in prison, Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were given a new trial and released after entering an Alford plea, under which they remain convicted felons;[11] the boy and his mother, who testified against the defendants recanted; Lax discovered a hair sample from the crime scene that resembled Terry Hobbs' DNA;[12] the wife of John Mark Byers, the father of one of the victims, was found dead under "unsolved" circumstances;[12] and Pam Hobbs continued to look for the truth about her son's murder.


True storyEdit


Colin Firth was confirmed to have joined the cast on May 21, 2012.[13] More casting announcements were made on June 27, 2012.[14] The film was produced by Elizabeth Fowler, Richard Saperstein, Clark Peterson, Christopher Woodrow and Paul Harris Boardman, and the screenplay was written by Boardman and Scott Derrickson.[5] The first image from the set was revealed on June 26, 2012.[15]


Filming began on June 16, 2012 in Georgia, cities of Morrow and Atlanta.[5] The courthouse scenes were filmed at the Bartow County Courthouse in Cartersville.[16]


The world premiere was held at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2013.[6] Image Entertainment purchased the distribution rights after its premiere.[2] The film was released in Canadian theaters (both English and French) on January 24, 2014.[17][18]


Devil's Knot holds a 24% rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 99 reviews. The general consensus states: "Director Atom Egoyan's noble intentions are impossible to deny, but Devil's Knot covers fact-based ground that's already been well-traveled with multiple (and far more compelling) documentaries, adding nothing worthwhile along the way."[19] On Metacritic, the film has a 42/100 rating, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[20]

See alsoEdit

These four documentaries center on the West Memphis Three:


  1. ^ a b Kaufman, Anthony (September 9, 2013). "Devil's Knot". Screen Daily. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Stewart, Andrew (October 7, 2013). "Image Entertainment Arrests Atom Egoyan's 'Devil's Knot'". Variety. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
  3. ^ "DEVIL'S KNOT (15)". Entertainment Film Distributors. British Board of Film Classification. May 14, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  4. ^ "Devil's Knot". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Chitwood, Adam (July 16, 2012). "Production Begins on DEVIL'S KNOT and VERY GOOD GIRLS". Collider. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Atkinson, Nathalie (September 8, 2013). "TIFF 2013: All the night moves with Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon and Jesse Eisenberg on the red carpet (but no George Clooney, sorry)". National Post. Archived from the original on September 9, 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  7. ^ Barnard, Linda (July 23, 2013). "TIFF: WikiLeaks movie The Fifth Estate to open film festival". Toronto Star. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  8. ^ "Toronto film festival 2013: the full line-up". The Guardian. London. July 23, 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  9. ^ "Devil's Knot opens in Canada in 4 days". January 20, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  10. ^ "West Memphis Three drama 'Devil's Knot' with Reese Witherspoon sets release date -- EXCLUSIVE". February 10, 2014. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  11. ^ Rogers, Abby (December 22, 2012). "A Little-Known Legal Maneuver Let 3 Men Convicted Of Murder Get Out Of Jail While Still Admitting Guilt". Business Insider. New York City: Axel Springer SE. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  12. ^ Blay, Zeba (May 21, 2012). "Colin Firth joins Reese Witherspoon in 'Devil's Knot'". Digital Spy. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  13. ^ Hunter, Craig (June 27, 2012). "Kevin Durand, Amy Ryan & Dane DeHaan Join 'Devil's Knot'". The Hollywood News. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  14. ^ Johnson, Zach (June 26, 2012). "Pic pregnant Reese Witherspoon begins shooting Devils Knot in Atlanta". US Magazine. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  15. ^ "Reese Witherspoon filming 'Devil's Knot' in Cartersville, GA this week". On Location Vacations. July 1, 2012. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  16. ^ "". Retrieved February 2, 2014. Date de sortie au Québec: 24 janvier 2014
  17. ^ "". Retrieved February 2, 2014.
  18. ^ "Devil's Knot (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  19. ^ "Devil's Knot". Metacritic. Retrieved November 30, 2014.

External linksEdit