Colin Firth in Devil's Knot

Devil’s Knot is in a bit of a pickle. A new trailer for the film just debuted online, tempting audiences with two minutes’ worth of Colin Firth speaking in a Southern twang. But two hours’ worth of the same premiered at last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival, and the results were… well, less than stellar. So director Atom Egoyan and Devil’s Knot must peddle their wares, knowing all too well that the typing of a mere two words — “Rotten Tomatoes” — can all but obliterate the goodwill generated from Colin Firth saying “y’all.”

It’s not a unique situation (not by any means; not when Labor Day, The Fifth Estate and every other poorly-reviewed festival film have been hamstrung in the exact same way), but it’s still a tough one to get out of. Frankly, it looks like the film has just one slim ray of hope: that of the many films to be made from the story of the West Memphis Three, Devil’s Knot is the first non-documentary. We’ve had four docs already, plus TV news investigations, true crime shows, books and tribute albums all devoted to the three young men who were falsely accused of killing three boys in a Satanic ritual. But no narrative films. And few things can sell “based on a true story” like a good old-fashioned Hollywood flick.

Only time will tell. For now, entertain yourselves with the sampling of Firth, Reese Witherspoon and overdramatic music found below.

Devil’s Knot opens on May 9, 2014.

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