I’ve just watched an extremely harrowing film called Devil’s Knot. Hadn’t heard anything about it and knew nothing of the true story behind it. Mark Kermode at the Guardian says that this adaptation brings nothing new… well, it did for me. As I said, I knew nothing about it. In the film, three eight year old boys go out on their bikes one afternoon, and they don’t come back. Not long after, the boys are found. And what happens next is a fascinating journey into truth and lies, a community bound by grief yet too quick to resort to mob mentality. Even the kids…
Soon three teenagers are arrested and charged in the throes of ‘satanic panic’, but something doesn’t stack up. A lot of things don’t stack up. Evidence goes missing. Statements are ignored. The judge throws the book at the three accused, with one sentenced to death for a crime he insists he did not commit. You won’t get any answers at the end of the film, but you’ll get a lot of food for thought.
You can make up your own mind about the ‘facts’ – presented in Mara Leveritt’s 2002 book (which I am now dying to read), or from the point-of-view of the accused (and eventually acquitted), Damien Echols… or of course, from the various sources on the internet (for example: this).
The film has an average rating of 5.8 on IMDB. This is usually the only site I use to decide whether to watch a film or not, but have found recently that the reviews (normally 7+ is a dead cert for quality) are not stacking up for me. See ‘Bad Neighbours’ for example (one word review: appalling). So despite the low score, we decided to watch… I was crying within 15 minutes. This is not a light film.
Anyway, I urge you to watch this, if only for the heartbreaking performance from Reece Witherspoon as the mother of one of the murdered boys – and the tenacity of Colin firth as Ron Lax, the private investigator who tried to get justice for the accused; and to prove the point that quite often, fact truly is stranger than fiction.