Director Atom Egoyan’s (Chloe) next project Devil’s Knot is based on the true events surrounding the 1993 murder of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, and the subsequent arrest of three teens suspected of committing the murders through satanic rituals. Taking its title from the Mara Leveritt book by the same name, Devil’s Knot will presumably take a dramatic look at the investigation of the case, both by the local police involved and by journalists like Leveritt who found the arrest and conviction of the West Memphis Three highly suspicious. While details on the film are short, Reese Witherspoon is reportedly attached to star as Pam Hobbs, a mother of one of the victims who is at first convinced of the teenagers’ guilt, but starts to question their conviction once the case drags on. Hit the jump for more on Devil’s Knot.
Variety initially reported on Witherspoon being cast for Egoyan’s Devil’s Knot. The project is similar in context to Purgatory, the third installment of Paradise Lost by documentary filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, which screened at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. After the first two HBO documentaries, the public began to take notice of the case, as did award-winning investigative journalist, Leveritt. Her unyielding investigation was the basis for, not only the book, but also played a role in continued interest and publicity of the ongoing case.
Devil’s Knot has been adapted for the screen by Scott Derrickson and Paul Boardman, with Egoyan making additions. The sub-$20 million project is expected to begin filming this summer. Witherspoon, most recently seen in Water for Elephants, will next star in This Means War alongside Chris Pine and Tom Hardy.
Here is the synopsis for “Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three” (via Amazon):
“Free the West Memphis Three.”
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase.
But do you know why their story is so alarming?
Do you know the facts?
The guilty verdicts handed out to three Arkansas teens in a horrific capital murder case were popular in their home state — even upheld on appeal. But after two HBO documentaries called attention to the witch-hunt atmosphere at the trials, artists and other supporters raised concerns about the accompanying lack of evidence. Now, award-winning journalist Mara Leveritt provides the most comprehensive look yet into this endlessly shocking case.
For weeks in 1993, after the murders of three eight-year-old boys, police in West Memphis, Arkansas, seemed stymied. Then suddenly, detectives charged three teenagers — alleged members of a satanic cult — with the killings. Despite stunning investigative blunders, a confession riddled with errors, and an absence of physical evidence linking any of the accused to the crime, the teenagers were tried and convicted. Jurors sentenced Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley to life in prison. They sentenced Damien Echols, the accused ringleader, to death. Ten years later, all three remain in prison. Here, Leveritt unravels this seemingly medieval case and offers close-up views of its key participants, including one with an uncanny knack for evading the law….