What happened to eight-year-old Arkansas natives, Steve Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers is pure nightmare fuel. Sparing the ghoulish details, the three young friends went missing on May 5th, 1993. The following afternoon, an abandoned boy's sneaker was found floating in a creek in the Robin Hood Hills of West Memphis. This led police to the boys' naked and mutilated bodies in a ditch. It was a discovery that caused untold grief and outrage in the surrounding community. Suspicion soon fell on three teenagers, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. And this is the beginning of The Devil's Knot.
Vulture has unveiled the first trailer for the film based on the non-fiction book Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three. With a screenplay by Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman, director Atom Egoyan looks to investigate the controversial trial that brought rumor, prejudice and fear of satanic rituals into the courtroom. This was the beginning of a case that would be in appeal for years to come.
Rather than focusing on the West Memphis Three, whose story has been told in the documentary series Paradise Lost, Devil's Knot appears to explore the community dynamic that allowed for the miscarriage of justice seen here. Reese Witherspoon stars as Pam Hobbs, one of the grieving mothers of the murdered boys. Colin Firth co-stars as Ron Lax, a detective dedicated to making sense of the bizarre clues of the murder case.
Development on the production began in the summer of 2011, just hours after The West Memphis Three were freed from prison after 18 years. By December of that year, he'd cemented Witherspoon to star, and Firth, who previously fronted the Egoyan drama Where the Truth Lies followed soon thereafter.
More casting notices came, and by the time Egoyan began production in the summer of 2012, Egoyan, the two-time Academy Award-nominated writer-director, has pulled together a supporting cast of such notable performers as Dane DeHaan, Kevin Durand, Elias Koteas, Stephen Moyer, Bruce Greenwood, Amy Ryan, and Alessandro Nivola. The Devil's Knot made its world premiere in September at the Toronto International Film Festival and is expected to open theatrically in the US early next year. But for now, we're waiting on a release date announcement.
For more on the West Memphis Three, check out this news report: