Omar Epps stars as Marcus Cowans, an ex-con and alcoholic looking to rebuild his life, in The Devil You Know. Marcus finds happiness in rebuilding family ties; warmth and understanding in the arms of his girlfriend. Everything appears to be going well until he uncovers evidence linking his brother Drew (Will Catlett) to a violent murder.
Marcus wants the best for his brother but doesn’t know whether it involves silence or the involvement of the authorities. The film questions how far one would go and what they’d be willing to sacrifice to protect a family member.
Director Charles Murray drew the film from a true story about a person who told on a family member
Charles Murray knew from an early age that he wanted to be a filmmaker. His first theatre was a family home of five siblings, including four brothers. Murray knew that he would create a film about the bonds of family one day.
“This movie is definitely about my relationship with my brothers,” Charles told The Chicago Tribune. “I’m always fascinated by beliefs within the family structure that sometimes work to the detriment of people,” he told Black Girl Nerds.
Murray said that he couldn’t handle his emotions as they filmed one dinner scene in the movie as it brought up past feelings. “I just cried my eyes out,” Charles said.
The idea of creating a family dynamic threatened by snitching came to Murray after reading a Chicago Tribune story about a man who informed on a family member. The man’s family treated him like an outcast after he told. Charles talked to The Philadelphia Sunday about applying this narrative to his family and coming up with the film:
“By the time I was 9, I’m thinking [that] I want to grow up to be a filmmaker, so I put a lens on my family. What I wanted to do was introduce something that would come out of left field and think it through as to how my family would respond to it.”
“If there are no surprises or emotional connections for the filmmaker, then something is wrong,” Murray added.
Omar Epps feels like everyone can relate to The Devil You Know
Omar Epps also inspired The Devil You Know as Charles pitched the idea to him before coming up with the script. “They got us a sit down and I pitched it to him,” Charles said. “It’s the first time I thought about using an actor to inspire my writing.”
Epps loved Charles’s ideas, so he asked for the script, but Murray didn’t have one. “I’m pissed off thinking, ‘Why did you let me get all riled up with ideas?’” Epps told TajiMag.
The pair worked on the script, got financing for it, filmed, edited, and eight years after that first meeting, the film debuted. Omar feels that everyone can find something relatable in The Devil You Know. He said:
“It’s really a film for everyone because everyone comes from a family that is similar to the one in this film. We all know that feeling. We wanted to try to capture that feeling so that people could examine themselves in a sense, I guess, and live vicariously through Marcus.”