Devil's Knot (2013)

A while ago, I wrote a review of West of Memphis. It was the fourth movie in the series that started with the trilogy of Paradise Lost movies that I subsequently went back and watched. Well, I watched the first two. Fact is, I just couldn't take any more of Damien Echols. By the fourth movie, it was pretty self-evident that the three boys were not guilty, but Damien Echols has just about the most annoying personality I've seen on screen. He's a condescending pseudo-intellectual who demonstrates his own ignorance at every turn and is downright grating on the nerves - but that doesn't make him guilty of the charges. This is a dramatization of those events.

Much like in the actual investigation, the details leading up to the crime which would be covered in the first part of this movie are a bit is glossed over. There are vital segments that are important to the story and the case against the three boys that are ignored entirely. I thought that this was because they were going to find time to go through the process of running the DNA and exonerating them at the end, but they didn't. It seems like they just made space for scenes that didn't necessarily have to happen at all. Instead, they spent the time at the end giving us updates on what has happened to the people involved with text on the screen. It was a really horrible way to end a movie, I have to tell you. Yes, other movies have done the same thing, but this was a very, very significant event that really should have been covered by the movie. they spent so much time making the three seem relatively guilty that this nod to their innocence was inexcusable.

The reason they spent time on extra scenes was because they spent the money on Reese Witherspoon (supposedly during a pregnancy) for one of the mothers of the victims. She did a very good job as Reese Witherspoon, but I've seen interviews with the actual mother, and I don't think she actually played that character very well. It is the problem that you run into when you play someone who is actually alive and people may have an idea of who they are and how they interact with others. A yardstick already existed, and Reese didn't measure up.

Colin Firth played the very concerned and moral center of the defense. I had seen interviews with this guy, too, and Colin seemed to do a good job. The director decided to have a lot of scenes that were fairly superfluous with Colin in them, and he was kind of brooding and alone most of the time. I vaguely got the sense that he was actually having the problems with the trial that the actual lawyer did - he was in over his head most of the time.

The way this story was presented was unnecessarily confusing because of the way they skipped the important parts - like the 12 hours of questioning they did with Jessie Misskelley Jr. before even bothering to turn on the tape recorder. The general police ineptitude combined with the coroner's inexperience with these kinds of deaths were what dictated a faulty guilty verdict, but we hear very little of either.

Directing was not great
Story needed work
Acting was good (especially Kevin Durand as John Mark Byers who was incredible)
Dialog was okay
Cinematography was okay

1.75/5

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