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DEVIL’S KNOT (review)

devils_knotDEVIL’S KNOT
Written by Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson
Directed by Atom Egoyan
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth and Alessandro Nivola

Pam Hobbs: It seems like everyone – the police, the judge – they all know who they want to have done this.

If you’ve had the chance to see any of the three PARADISE LOST documentaries made on the subject of the West Memphis Three – the three adolescent boys who were convicted of killing and mutilating three younger boys as part of a seemingly Satanic ritual in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993 – or even last year’s Peter Jackson produced documentary on the same subject, called WEST OF MEMPHIS, you should avoid seeing Atom Egoyan’s dramatic take on the subject, entitled DEVIL’S KNOT. The fact is that anyone going into this film with prior experience with the subject is likely to find Egoyan’s film to be either insulting or infuriating or, quite frankly, both.


It isn’t that the story of the West Memphis Three doesn’t have enough elements to make a compelling drama. It’s that Egoyan isn’t bringing anything new to the table, nor does he seem like he has any of his own thoughts on the subject. All he seems intent on doing is recreating this horrible story for entertainment purposes. The fact that it isn’t even that entertaining a film certainly does not help with his mission. Throughout DEVIL’S KNOT, I never felt like Egoyan was making much of an effort to do anything dynamic with the film, so I never fully understood why he decided to take this story on to begin with.


Egoyan’s painfully plain approach paints the people involved, all lower class people in a small town, as ignorant and devoid of any actual intelligent thought. While it is true that ignorance played a factor in convicting the West Memphis Three, Egoyan seems uninterested in exploring how that ignorance came to be and the possibility that intelligent thought can be had amidst the disenfranchised. If you’re not familiar with this story, DEVIL’S KNOT is not the place to become familiar with it.


Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Devil’s Knot?




  1. I wondered about this one. I never saw the point of it, especially after all the PL films and West of Memphis. What more could they possibly add unless they’re non supporters?

  2. That’s unfortunate. It seems to me that after “The Sweet Hereafter”, he’d be the perfect choice to observe a small community coping with tragedy.

  3. Well, that’s disappointing. It was on my list of movies to see this fall since I’ve seen the Paradise Lost docs and the Peter Jackson doc. Oh well :\

  4. I would have also thought Egoyan would have been the perfect choice to direct this film, even if it isn’t really necessary considering how much film has already been dedicated to the topic. That said, I genuinely felt like he didn’t care about the material at all and took no stance or point of view on anything at all.

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