Leon van Nierop
2 minute read
9 May 2014
12:00 pm

Movie review: Devil’s Knot

Leon van Nierop

This is quite a distressing and unsettling experience.

Bruce Greenwood plays a judge in 'Devil's Knot'. Pictures: Supplied.

You might recognise the true story on which it is based from newspaper articles. It has troubled American authorities and a concerned public for decades and there still aren’t any clear cut answers.

It all started in 1993 in Memphis, Tennessee, when three young boys were brutally murdered in a forest after going out to play on their bicycles. Police arrested three teenagers who were all linked to heavy metal music and dark, violent comic books. They were presumed to be devil worshippers and were therefore automatically judged guilty of these horrendous crimes that shocked a nation.

These men have recently been released after 17 years in prison after authorities admitted the evidence against them was weak and not sufficient to have them imprisoned for almost two decades.

But what actually happened?

It is interesting that two Oscar-winning actors of the calibre of Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth took the parts of two of the main role-players in this case, which has sparked books, theories, documentaries and even petitions.

Alessandro Nivola  stars in ‘Devil’s Knot’.

Alessandro Nivola
stars in ‘Devil’s Knot’.

Firth plays the part of one of the investigators and Witherspoon is the mother of one of the murdered boys. Both give good performances.

So who committed the murders? The film provides a theory, although the police have refuted it. But could it be true?

Atom Egoyan’s direction is gloomy, haunting and even angry at times as it becomes obvious that there were other possible suspects who could have committed the murders – but the investigators conveniently took it for granted that they had already caught the killers.

Once you’ve seen the film, the possible answer is quite disturbing. But then again: what were the motives of the real killer(s)? This is still open for debate.

Devil’s Knot is not an easy film to sit through, so don’t expect a TV-style court drama. It investigates the possibilities in a quiet, non-dramatic manner – but will definitely hit you right between the eyes.