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The Colin Firth Flop Getting A Second Chance On Hulu

It is and has always been a comforting fact that Colin Firth can be depended on to wear sweater vests and generally embody what it would look like if the words "oh, bother" took human form. Maybe that's why Devil's Knot ate it so hard, commercially and critically. Audiences walked into the theater expecting Paddington's man-shaped His Dark Materials daemon and, instead, got three dead kids and a very upset Reese Witherspoon.

Or maybe it had nothing to do with Firth — a man who three out of ten Americans believe is fourth in line for the British throne — stepping way outside his sweet spot to play a private investigator from south of the Mason-Dixon line. Maybe Devil's Knot underperformed because, according to Box Office Mojo, it was only ever released in 18 theaters before being hastily shuffled to video-on-demand. Luckily, the 2013 crime drama is now experiencing an out-of-left-field second act success story thanks to its recent jump to Hulu.

Directed by Academy Award nominee Atom Egoyan and co-written by Doctor Strange's own Scott Derrickson, Devil's Knot draws its inspiration from the real life story of the West Memphis Three and the mid-'90s trial that saw two of them saddled with life sentences and the third sentenced to death. The details, predictably, are pretty grim.

Devil's Knot provides a tangled look at history

True story: In the town of West Memphis, Arkansas, three eight-year-old boys disappeared on the afternoon of May 5, 1993. The next day, their bodies were found — the details are uniformly horrifying — and it wasn't long before a trio of local teenagers was arrested for the killings. Over the course of their trial, more and more disturbing revelations came to light, with claims of Satan worship, the consumption of human blood, and, most jarringly of all, people speaking Spanish. The legal proceedings became a point of media fascination, leading to extensive national news coverage and a handful of documentaries in the years that followed.

These are the events that inspired Devil's Knot, a film that The Independent would go on to call "a strangely unsatisfactory affair that doesn't quite work either as a documentary-style reconstruction, a brooding thriller or a courtroom drama." It was a sentiment shared by a fair number of critics, and the movie wound up with a 24% critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as an audience score that's not much brighter.

Still, the attention that Devil's Knot is getting on Hulu might just lead to a late-in-life reconsideration of the movie. If nothing else, it shines a light on a particularly bleak moment in American judicial history. Plus, you get to hear Harry Hart from Kingsman talk like a terribly relaxed Yosemite Sam from Looney Tunes.