×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Reese Witherspoon’s ‘Devil’s Knot’ Propels Mystery of West Memphis Three Case

Drama brings 1993 case back into spotlight, implicating boy's father as possible suspect

Hollywood’s latest feature about the West Memphis Three debuted with a press and industry screening Friday morning at the Toronto Film Festival, offering another passionate look into the Arkansas murders that took the lives of three boys on May 5, 1993.

Devil’s Knot,” starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth, explores the legal trappings that led to the conviction and eventual release of “Satanic” teens Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley Jr., while shedding some insight as to who might be responsible for one of the most notorious crimes in U.S. history.

Directed by Atom Egoyan and based on Mara Leveritt’s 2002 book “The Devil’s Knot: The True Story,” the drama proposes that one of four suspects, Chris Morgan, Terry Hobbs, John Mark Byers and an unidentified black male dubbed “Mr. Bojangles,” could have committed the murders.

While Morgan, Byers and “Mr. Bojangles” are at the center of private investigator Ron Lax’s (Firth) suspect list, it’s Terry Hobbs, step father of 8-year old victim Stevie Branch, who emerges as the most likely suspect by the movie’s end.

After Pamela Hobbs (Witherspoon) finds their son’s pocket knife in her husband’s tool box, the film later notes that Hobbs’ DNA was found at the crime scene on the rope binding one of the victim’s hands to his feet.

Popular on Variety

But “Devil’s Knot,” which is looking for a U.S. distributor, never tries to make a strong case for either suspect, instead focusing on the lynch mob-like mentality that affected the small community of West Memphis, Arkansas and spawned several documentaries like “Paradise Lost” as well as spurring celebrities such as Johnny Depp to fight for the trio’s eventual release in 2011.

“Devil’s Knot” officially premieres Sunday night in Toronto.

More Film

  • The Champion

    Italy's 'The Champion' Picked Up for France Ahead of De Rome a Paris (EXCLUSIVE)

    French distributor Destiny Films has acquired rights for France to Italian soccer dramedy “The Champion” from Italy’s True Colours in the runup to the De Rome a Paris festival and confab, which kicks off Friday. Produced by Matteo Rovere’s Groenlandia (“Romulus”), “The Champion” turns on the uneasy relationship between a young male soccer star and [...]

  • Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) is

    AACTA International Awards Nominations Favor 'The Irishman'

    Netflix’s “The Irishman” garnered the most nominations for the Australian Academy of Cinema & Television Arts International Awards. It picked up six nods, ahead of five for “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood,” and the four each for “Joker,” “Bombshell,” and “Parasite.” AACTA’s international awards seek to “(honor) the best achievements in film excellence, regardless [...]

  • Prince Dead

    'Purple Rain,' 'Clerks, 'She's Gotta Have It' Added to National Film Registry

    “Purple Rain,” “Clerks,” “She’s Gotta Have It,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Amadeus,” “Sleeping Beauty,””Boys Don’t Cry” and “The Last Waltz” are among this year’s additions to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. The list also includes 1944’s “Gaslight,” starring Ingrid Bergman in an Oscar-winning performance; the 1955 film noir “The Phenix City Story,” [...]

  • 6 Underground

    Michael Bay's '6 Underground': Film Review

    If “6 Underground” were opening in theaters, you’d want to be sure to get there on time. Within the first six minutes, Michael Bay destroys a plane, a motorcycle, three cars, countless pedestrians, and the dignity of three Italian nuns. I’m fairly certain that Ryan Reynolds — who heads up the film’s off-the-grid vigilante squad, [...]

  • Juliette Binoche (L) and Catherine Deneuve

    Macao Festival: Juliette Binoche Tells 'The Truth' About Acting

    It’s hard for Juliette Binoche to think about her recent career trajectory from a bird’s eye view as she hurtles along within it. She has put out five films in the past two years. Her latest is Hirokazu Kore-eda’s French-language drama “The Truth,” which is getting her Oscar buzz for her role opposite Catherine Deneuve. [...]

  • Kathy Bates Walk of Fame Honor

    Kathy Bates Erroneously Submitted for Lead Actress in SAG Awards Race (EXCLUSIVE)

    If dark horse awards contender Kathy Bates is absent in the best supporting actress category come tomorrow’s Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, don’t be too quick to put in on her performance in “Richard Jewell.” A clerical error was made by the Clint Eastwood film’s distributor Warner Bros., an insider with knowledge of the mixup [...]

  • Kasi LemmonsNew York Women in Film

    Kasi Lemmons, Jane Rosenthal, Ann Dowd Talk Golden Globes Female Director Snub

    The absence of women among director nominees for the Golden Globes is another example of how much work remains to be done to achieve gender parity in the entertainment industry, honorees said Tuesday night at the 40th annual Muse Awards presented by New York Women in Film and Television. “Harriet” director Kasi Lemmons, “The Irishman” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content