Devil's Knot (film)

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Devil's Knot
Devil's Knot film poster (2013).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Atom Egoyan
Produced by
Written by
Based on Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three
by Mara Leveritt
Music by Mychael Danna
Cinematography Paul Sarossy
Edited by Susan Shipton
Distributed by Image Entertainment[2]
Release date
  • September 8, 2013 (2013-09-08) (TIFF)
  • May 9, 2014 (2014-05-09)
Running time
114 minutes[3]
Country United States[1]
Language English
Box office $2 million[4]

Devil's Knot is a 2013 American biographical crime drama film directed by Atom Egoyan. The film is based on a 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 during the Satanic ritual abuse panic. They were subsequently sentenced to death (Echols) and life imprisonment (Baldwin and Misskelley).[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.

The film premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2013,[6] followed by a wider release later that year.[7][8] The film 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 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 following approximately 12 hours of interrogation. They are taken to trial, where Baldwin and Misskelley are sentenced to life, and Echols to death, all the while still proclaiming their innocence.


True story[edit]

On May 5, 1993, three eight-year-old boys (Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore) went missing from their neighborhood in West Memphis, Arkansas. After an extensive search, their bound and beaten bodies were found the next day. The religious community and small police department were convinced that the murders were the work of a satanic cult, due to the violent and apparent sexual nature of the crime.[citation needed] A month later, three teenagers (18-year-old Damien Echols, 16-year-old Jason Baldwin, and 17-year-old Jessie Misskelley, Jr.) were arrested after Misskelley, who was mentally handicapped, confessed after twelve hours of interrogation.[citation needed] Despite the lack of evidence connecting them to the crimes, they were convicted; Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life, and Echols to death. All three maintained their innocence, and hired forensic experts and investigators to re-examine the evidence, which eventually lent credibility to their claims of innocence.[citation needed] The new evidence uncovered new unidentified DNA and several hairs, one of which tied Branch's stepfather to the murders.[citation needed] This earned them powerful support, including celebrities and even the families of two of the murdered children. Despite this, their appeals were rejected by a judge and state prosecutors.

In August 2011, after the defendants had been incarcerated 18 years, the Arkansas Supreme Court granted an evidentiary hearing and had a new judge determine whether or not the new evidence entitled the three men to a new trial. On August 19, they were allowed to walk free after reaching an agreement with prosecutors and giving "Alford pleas" in exchange for time served. To date, they are working towards a full exoneration and have vowed to find the real murderer of the three children.[citation needed]


Colin Firth was confirmed to have joined the cast on May 21, 2012.[11] More casting announcements were made on June 27, 2012.[12] 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.[13]


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.[14]


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.[15][16]


Devil's Knot holds a 21% rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 75 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."[17] On Metacritic, the film has a 42/100 rating, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[18]

See also[edit]

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 (2013-09-08). "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. Retrieved 2013-09-08. 
  7. ^ Barnard, Linda (2013-07-23). "TIFF: WikiLeaks movie The Fifth Estate to open film festival". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  8. ^ "Toronto film festival 2013: the full line-up". The Guardian. London. July 23, 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  9. ^ "Devil's Knot opens in Canada in 4 days". 2014-01-20. Retrieved 2014-02-04. 
  10. ^ "West Memphis Three drama 'Devil's Knot' with Reese Witherspoon sets release date -- EXCLUSIVE". Feb 10, 2014. 
  11. ^ Blay, Zeba (May 21, 2012). "Colin Firth joins Reese Witherspoon in 'Devil's Knot'". Digital Spy. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  12. ^ Hunter, Craig (June 27, 2012). "Kevin Durand, Amy Ryan & Dane DeHaan Join 'Devil's Knot'". The Hollywood News. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  13. ^ Johnson, Zach (June 26, 2012). "Pic pregnant Reese Witherspoon begins shooting Devils Knot in Atlanta". US Magazine. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Reese Witherspoon filming 'Devil's Knot' in Cartersville, GA this week". On Location Vacations. July 1, 2012. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  15. ^ "". Retrieved February 2, 2014. Date de sortie au Québec: 24 janvier 2014 
  16. ^ "". Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Devil's Knot (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 30, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Devil's Knot". Metacritic. Retrieved November 30, 2014. 

External links[edit]