DVD Review: Devil's Knot
Disclosure: I have never seen a movie previous to this one about the West Memphis Three and I thought maybe because I had not seen any previous work or knew too much about the case that Devil’s Knot wouldn’t be too awful, I was wrong.
Devil’s Knot is not only a bad film it is brings a whole new level of dimension to terrible filmmaking and story telling. There are some movies that are so bad they end up being cult favourites, there are also movies that are so bad that no one ever wants to talk about them as well. But when you take something as serious as the incident of the West Memphis Three and do this to it, the question has to be asked what happened off camera, or was this always Egoyan’s plan? Whether it’s the pacing in the movie or the way the actors carry themselves nearly everything is this film is a disaster, and a shameful one for such an important issue.
The movie switches focuses between three groups of people, the worried mother wanting justice, Pam Hobbs (Reese Witherspoon), investigatory Ron Lax (Colin Firth) and the three boys who were convicted of the murders, Damien Echols (James Hamrick), Jessie Misskelley (Kris Higgins), and Jason Baldwin (Seth Meriwether). However there is one other character in the movie, a suspect named Chris Morgan (Dane DeHaan) who is the only person throughout the movie who seems to give it any amount of effort. With the movie constantly bouncing back and forth between court and testimonies or trying to obtain convictions the soul of the movie withers away because the performances nor the script can uphold what the film is trying to accomplish. Even in the way they deliver that the three boys are being targeted because of their satanic beliefs falls flat where it should have been one of the higher emotional points in the movie. Devils Knot falls short of its goal, and not by a few inches but by a few feet.
When taking a sensitive story such as this, especially when it is based on real events the actors and actresses should try to deliver all of their effort onto the project. However throughout Devils Knot it was a rare scene when any moment of particular empathy or compassion came from me onto a character because the effort was not there. The only actor who attempted to give it some passion was Dane DeHaan who on the odd moment almost had my empathy until another character interfered and drowned it out. The acting was pitiful throughout the film, and it seems as everyone involved just was in it for money at the end of the day.
Devils Knot is one of the hardest things I have found myself trying to sit through in recent memory, and not because of context. It is a rare occasion where I find myself struggling to get through a movie, but Devils Knot was on the verge of horrific. Thankfully a seemingly short run time saved it from itself slightly, as the torture was not longer than wanted. If there was any amount of passion or real deliverance in Colin Firth’s character or Reese Witherspoon’s the movie would have had a significant different impact, but because of their extremely surprising two-dimensional characters, Devils Knot was clinging to life.