Devil’s Knot (Blu-ray)

June 9, 2014 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

A lot happened in 1993. Then again a lot happens every year, but it’s up to the individual to determine what’s really important and what isn’t.  But as I look back two decades, I can remember the World Trade Center getting bombed in February, David Koresch and the Branch Dividians in Waco, Texas and three 8 year-olds getting savagely murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas. As a former resident of the state of Arkansas, I paid a bit more attention to the West Memphis case and it’s one that actually made national headlines (bear in mind that Bill Clinton had just taken office as President of the United States only months before). I usually don’t pay attention to true crime and though my wife’s favorite channel is ID (a network that’s dedicated to showcasing seemingly each and every true crime story that’s ever occurred), this is a case that both her and I knew about.  So when Devil’s Knot arrived, I’d not seen any of the previous four documentaries (more on that later) that had accompanied the story, but rather saw the familiar faces of Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon.

The movie wastes no time getting to the “action” of the film if you will. We meet doting mother Pam Hobbs (Reese Witherspoon) as she waves goodbye to her son, off to play with his friends. He never returns. In a gruesome scene, we witness the bodies of the three fished out of a local creek and the subsequent manhunt for the killers.  After a series of investigations it’s deemed that three local teenagers were responsible for the murders, but it’s also something that doesn’t sit well with local investigator, Ron Lax (Colin Firth). This trio of teens would come to be known as the “West Memphis Three” and it would be assessed that they were all Atheists who worshipped the Devil. That being said, the killings were deemed to be part of a satanic ritual. But nothing’s as open and shut as it would seem and only recently have the facts of the case been re-examined. I won’t give away what’s transpired (though it’s common knowledge), but let’s just say that the law isn’t always right when it comes to judgment.

Devil’s Knot isn’t a bad movie, not by any means. The main criticism for the film has been that it wasn’t really necessary. There have been four previous documentaries (Paradise Lost 1-3 and West of Memphis, which had Peter Jackson’s involvement) that have so adequately covered this subject, that there really wasn’t a need for a dramatized version of what we already knew happened.  But Hollywood does what it wants and admittedly I was curious to see two Academy Award winners in the lead roles. For those that are wondering, Reese Witherspoon was pregnant during the filming and hasn’t put on weight – I mention that only because it’s pretty evident that she’s not her usual self. Firsh does a fine job as well, even putting on a convincing Southern accent.  For those (like myself) who haven’t seen the documentaries on this subject and were only passingly familiar with the case, this will do the job. For those that have seen the documentaries, this is probably more of a slap in the face than anything else.

Video: How’s it look?

The film, shot in Georgia (passing for Arkansas), boasts a 1.78:1 AVC HD transfer that’s top notch.  Egoyan and his cinematographer have certainly created some intense images here and the vivid detail of the South looks great in all its HD glory.  Detail pops and the colors are rich and bold.  Granted, there are some rather “choice” scenes in the film so having this breathtaking detail is a double-edged sword so to speak.  Black levels and contrast work well off one another and save for a few of the interior shots, this is a top notch transfer.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The included DTS HD Master Audio mix has a few moments, but by and large this is a dialogue-driven movie.  The surrounds kick in at some moments to add some depth to the scene, but to me tis seemed like more of a stereo mix.  There’s not a lot of action going on throughout and this mix is passable at best, with a few moments of glory. To sum it up, I wasn’t really expecting a whole lot given the subject matter and this soundtrack delivered what I was expecting.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Given the wealth of notoriety on this case, I’d have expected a bit more in the supplemental department, but what we have is passable for the casual viewer.

  • The Making of Devil’s Knot – A standard EPK featurette focusing on director Atom Egoyan and his involvement with the film with some backup interviews with Witherspoon, Firth and Stephen Moyer. Author Mara Leveritt, who authored the book, is also featured.
  • Getting Into Character: The Cast of Devil’s Knot – Essentially the same as above, but it’s more focused on the actors and what led them to the film and so forth. The same quartet of actors are profiled here as in the above featurette.
  • Deleted Scenes – Two in all running nearly six minutes. Nothing really of substance here.
  • DVD Copy

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