This movie tells the true story of the West Memphis Three. In 1993, a trio of young boys went missing, and were later found on the bottom of a creek, bound with their own shoelaces, savagely beaten, and dead either of their injuries, or of injuries combined with drowning.
The local police force bungles the investigation. When a restaurant manager calls to say a man covered in blood is sitting in their ladies’ restroom, a patrolwoman eventually shows up, at the drive through, and never comes inside. The crime scene is trampled, the coroner isn’t called, the bodies are left out in the sun. Fair to say that when whispers of a satanic cult surface, the cops are all too happy to suckle at the teat of a convenient scapegoat, and within a month, three teenage boys are arrested and charged with the murders, though two maintain their innocence while a third, mentally retarded, has a confession coerced from him after an exhausting 12 hours of interrogation.
Reese Witherspoon plays the mother of one of the victims. She is haunted by little Stevie, mourns him viciously, but still can’t shake the many questions that seem to surface during the trial. Colin Firth plays an investigator who donates his services to the defense team because although the accused are young, a sentence of death is still on the line.
Atom Egoyan does a capable job of telling a chilling story. He hits all the right marks, and I can tell you this, and you may know this yourself, from the many compelling documentaries that have been offered over the years. I already know all the right marks. Within the past year, I watched a documentary called West of Memphis produced by one of the convicted murderers himself, a riveting piece that chronicles the events meticulously. Paradise Lost is a trilogy concerning the case. Devil’s Knot, therefore, is late to the party and fails to add to the conversation in a meaningful way.