Sunday, June 29, 2014

Devil's Knot Review

Imagine you are sitting at my kitchen table and I offer you a piece of fresh baked apple pie, a delicious treat made with passion and an appreciation for every ingredient. Now imagine I never offered you that pie despite having it, and instead I hand you a store bought apple flavored rice cake.

This would be similar to having the Paradise Lost trilogy of documentaries, and yet when you express an interest in learning about the story of the West Memphis Three, I pop in Devil's Knot as your introduction to such horrific yet incredibly compelling events. Sure, the rice cake might somewhat appease your appetite, and there is some mild flavor to extract...but fuck, wouldn't you rather have the fresh baked pie?

Devil's Knot isn't guilty of being a bad movie technically, it is just so damn bland. For those who don't know, on May 5th, 1993, three young boys all aged 8 were brutally and disgustingly murdered one evening, a parents worst nightmare come true for what started as an innocent friendly bike ride resulted in the children never coming home again. This is a true story, and what resulted is a tale of police and government corruption as suspects were quickly named and apprehended despite having no real, hard evidence to link them to the crime. Those suspects were a troubled teenager named Damien Echols, his best friend Jason Baldwin and a third young man named Jessie Misskelley Jr. whom barely associated with the other two prior to this bizarre and unfortunate fateful night.

I will spare you all the details of the case because if you haven't yet done so, you really should watch all three Paradise Lost documentary films and engross yourself in this case that is still yet to be settled today. Devil's Knot essentially shows you reenacted events from the documentaries with phony feeling actors playing the roles, but it doesn't do anything special or teach us anything new at all. I suppose if you watched the film going in totally blind about the true events, you may enjoy it far more than the already informed, because as someone who has seen the docs repeatedly and prayed for their freedom and exoneration for years now I was flat out bored during Devil's Knot. Even so, if you were introduced to this case by this recent Atom Egoyan film and you feel like you had a positive cinematic experience, do yourself a favor and go back and watch the real footage, get a feel for the real people, feel the real heartbreak. What was achieved here fell short of even being in the same universe as the Paradise Lost films.

With such an incredible story demanding to be told to a more widespread audience, it is such a shame that this was the final product produced. Essentially what Devil's Knot can be compared to would be a decent made for the Lifetime Channel film or an above average episode of Law and Order, but with the talents of Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon and Dane Dehaan and others lined up to star in the film, the audience deserved better, they deserved more.

A boring and rather forgettable film telling a true story that is never boring and remarkably memorable. It isn't the worst film I have seen this year, not even close, but it should still be labeled a failure.


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