The case of the West Memphis Three might be one of the most oft-visited stories of the past decade. Most famously, documentarians Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky have produced a trilogy of Paradise Lost films about the case, while director Amy J. Berg also released her own documentary called West Of Memphis. The Discovery Network and CBS’ 48 Hours have chronicled the story, and celebrities and artists have turned their attention to the cause as well.
Now director Atom Egoyan has turned the real-life case into its first dramatized feature film, Devil’s Knot. Based on Mara Leveritt’s 2002 book of the same title, the film's trailer follows the now-familiar beats of the infamous murder case: three 8-year-old boys go missing one night and are later found murdered and hogtied. The small Bible Belt community blames three teenagers accused of “Satanism.” Despite a lack of hard evidence and accusations of police coercion, the teens are sentenced for the crime. (The only thing omitted is the ending: After more than 18 years in jail, the men finally make a deal with prosecutors and are allowed to walk free.)
Egoyan’s film stars Reese Witherspoon as the mother of one of the murdered boys and Colin Firth as the private investigator who works pro bono to prove the innocence of the West Memphis Three. The film premiered to mixed reviews at the Toronto Film Festival in September—many of which emphasized that this story has already been told elsewhere (and better). The trailer, however, captures the necessary somber tone, and though Devil's Knot doesn't currently have a release date, it’s entirely possible the film will end up finding commercial success with a general public who's less familiar with the case, and more interested in its stars' performances.