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Devil's Knot covers fact-based ground that's already been well-traveled with multiple (and far more compelling) documentaries. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

The Arkansas town of West Memphis makes national headlines when three teenagers are arrested for the brutal murders of three little boys.

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Critic Reviews for Devil's Knot

All Critics (100) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (75)

  • It compares most unfavourably with the recent Prisoners, which told an entirely fictional story about missing children with far more intrigue, suspense and cinematic skill than Egoyan's muted effort.

    July 30, 2014 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • In literary adaptations such as Felicia's Journey and The Sweet Hereafter, Egoyan has shown that he can depict darkness and explore loss. But here, he feels mired in stereotypes, or dependent on images that documentaries have already created.

    July 23, 2014 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Haunting artistry aside, it's hard to see what Egoyan brings to the table that hasn't already been covered in print (Mara Leveritt's book provides source material), on screen and elsewhere in the media.

    June 15, 2014 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • It is a strangely unsatisfactory affair that doesn't quite work either as a documentary-style reconstruction, a brooding thriller or a courtroom drama.

    June 13, 2014 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Why has Egoyan made this unsatisfactory, ultimately dismaying film, when this awful story has been so thoroughly treated already elsewhere?

    June 13, 2014 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • ...feels more like a stiff book report than a sobering account of an all-American tragedy.

    June 13, 2014 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Devil's Knot

  • Aug 26, 2014
    Based on true events, Devil's Knot is a disturbing look at the American justice system. Responding to the public outcry over the murder of three young boys, the police quickly arrest three teenagers for the crime; but a criminal investigator for the defense soon discovers that there's no solid evidence tying the teens to the murders. Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, and Bruce Greenwood lead the cast and give solid performances. The courtroom drama scenes are also fairly good, and add an element of tension and suspense to the film. Still, it's made pretty clear which way the trial's going to go and the characters don't have much depth to them. While Devil's Knot isn't the most compelling of true crime films, it does provide a provocative look at the effect that mass hysteria can have on a small community.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 14, 2014
    It seems that most of the negative reviews for Devil's Knot, an American biographical crime-drama thriller are coming from people who are well informed about the events. I have to say I never heard about them before watching this film directed by Atom Egoyan. It seems that was an advantage for me that I wasn't familiar with the true story as told in Mara Leveritt's 2002 book of the same name, concerning three teenagers known as the West Memphis Three, who were convicted of killing three young boys and subsequently sentenced to life in prison. I enjoyed the story, the acting of the stars Reese Witherspoon, Mireille Enos, Colin Firth, Dane DeHaan, Kevin Durand, Bruce Greenwood, Stephen Moyer, Elias Koteas, Amy Ryan, and Alessandro Nivola, and the dramatic music! The story goes back to 1993, in the working class community of West Memphis, Arkansas. Three eight-year-old boys decide to go for a bicycle ride - and that was the last time when Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore were seen alive! The whole community gets involved in an extensive search, and soon their bound and beaten bodies are found the next day. The whole community and the police department are convinced that the murders must be the work of a satanic cult due to the violent and sexual natures of the crime... The excellent work by the director Atom Egoyan is not appreciated by the wider community. He managed to bring the heavy feeling over the shoulders of every single member of the audience because of the injustice and sadness, but most of the people who saw this film prefer just facts which is much better served by a documentary!
    Panta O Super Reviewer
  • Jun 29, 2014
    Devil's Knot is a dramatization of the infamous West Memphis 3 case, in which three children were brutally assaulted and killed in a small Arkansas town. Through documentaries such as the brilliant Paradise Lost, many doubts have been raised regarding the guilt of the convicted teens, since released as the result of a rare Alford Plea. That their convictions were extremely dubious is obvious, and the outrage over the 'investigation' of the case certainly seems just. The task for the film, however, was to take this heartbreaking and infuriating story, and translate that in to something dramatically compelling. What results is a bit of a mixed bag, something more akin to an abbreviated retelling, and not necessarily a self contained film. The story itself is inherently compelling, and enthralling with its mystery and bizarre outcomes. This automatically gives Devil's Knot an advantage. To its disadvantage, however, the material had already been covered in numerous award-winning documentaries. For the film, I was hoping for a more dramatic piece, whereas with Devil's Knot we are introduced to the players, some of the emotions, and the mystery, yet nothing really new is offered. Despite some good actors and decent performances, it occasionally has the feel of a TV movie, in that the scenes are compressed and fast acting, that characterizations take a back seat to a "by the numbers" approach to filmmaking. An example of a film that treads on familiar territory yet enlivens it would be Zodiac, a film that's true to the spirit of the case while also making a compelling argument for its existent as a film. Overall, the story itself is one that needs to be told. It's done competently in Devil's Knot, to be sure, making it worth a watch, though a piece that should take a back seat to what came before it. 3/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 15, 2014
    The story portrayed in Devil's Knot is the story of the West Memphis 3, a story I am very familiar with. Due to the heinous nature of the crime and the complete incompetence of the local police, the story garnered national attention and has been featured on every news show you can think of. There have also been a ton of documentaries made, all of which I've seen, and all of which call into question who might have really committed these acts. 1993, West Memphis Arkansas, three 8 year old boys go missing in the woods. A huge search party spends 3 days looking for them, before finding them in a popular fishing hole known as the Devil's Knot. There is a big list of suspects, but all the police can see is a group of Satan worshiping teenagers, who have long been a thorn in their sides. Through some very questionable tactics, and a sham of a trial, these teenagers were convicted and sent to prison. From the beginning, there involvement in the crime was called into question, even by the victims families, who saw the injustice of the whole procedure first hand. With my knowledge of the story, I was really interested to see how a film would handle the overwhelming amount of information associated with this case. To my surprise, they didn't do the typical thing and just focus on one aspect of the story, they made the case for the guilt of each of the suspects, and they showed how the police blindly and incompetently when after these three teenagers. As the film goes, they hit the nail right on the head, but when you have all these suspects, and so much back story, squeezed into an hour and a half, it can become extremely confusing for audiences unfamiliar with the case. The film is further harmed by all the interviews and investigation which really slow the pace down. The story of the West Memphis 3 is a tragic one that has led to the freedom of a killer, who did horrible things to three little boys. Devil's Knot is a primary example of police misconduct and the lack of justice available to the less fortunate. If you have an interest, I highly recommend you look into the story and decide for yourself, and a non-bias film covering the events is a great place to start.
    Todd S Super Reviewer

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