Trial by Fire (I) (2018)

R   |    |  Biography, Drama

Trial by Fire (2018) Poster

The tragic and controversial story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in Texas for killing his three children after scientific evidence and expert testimony that bolstered his claims of innocence were suppressed.

Add this title to your Watchlist
Save movies and shows to keep track of what you want to watch.




  • Darren Pettie and Jack O'Connell in Trial by Fire (2018)
  • Jack O'Connell in Trial by Fire (2018)
  • Jack O'Connell in Trial by Fire (2018)
  • Laura Dern in Trial by Fire (2018)
  • With Ed Zwick
  • Still of Katie McClellan in Trial By Fire

See all photos

More of What You Love

Find what you're looking for even quicker with the IMDb app on your smartphone or tablet.

Get the IMDb app

Reviews & Commentary

Add a Review

User Reviews

28 May 2019 | paul-allaer
| Well intended death row drama is too obvious
(I am surprised that Amazon doesn't have a listing of this yet as a future DVD release, as it usually does for movies currently playing in theaters. But to be clear, this is a review of the MOVIE, not of the movie's poster.)

"Trial By Fire" (2018 release; 127 min.) brings the story of "baby killer" Todd Willingham. As the movie opens, it is "December 23, 1991, Corsicana, TX", as we see a guy just barely escaping a burning house and screaming "my babies are burning!". Turns out his three young daughters were still inside the house, and perished. T's not long before the Corsicana police and fire department start looking into the matter, and conclude that the guy started an arson, and before we know it, Todd, refusing to take a plea bargain, is convicted and sentenced to death... At this point we are less than 15 min. into the movie, and you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from producer-director Edward Zwick. Here he takes on the notorious case of the Texas Baby killer. It is a death row drama that is well intended (exposing social injustice), but alas is brought with the subtlety of a bull in a china store: "this is capital punishment: if you ain't got no capital, you'll get punished", comments an inmate at some point. This may well be true, but the movie bashes your head with this message over and over (cops: BAD, every single one of them! Texas judicial system: crooked through and through! in every single case!), and it simply becomes a tiring viewing experience. Laura Dern appears 45 min. into the movie as the well-meaning woman who (for reasons never explained) decides to take up correspondence with Todd (in the form of actual letters back and forth). Be sure to stick around until the end credits roll, as Zwick includes an actual news clip of then-Texas governor Rick Perry...

"Trial By Fire" premiered at last year's Telluride film festival to ho-hum reaction, and is now getting a limited theater release. The movie recently opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Monday Memorial Day early evening screening where I saw this at was attended so-so (about 10 people), and I honestly can't see this playing very long in theaters. If you are in the mood for a death row drama os simply are a fan of Laura Dern or Robert Zwick, I encourage you to check this out, be it in the theater (not very likely), on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.

Metacritic Reviews

Critic Reviews

More Like This

  • The Tomorrow Man

    The Tomorrow Man

  • All Is True

    All Is True

  • The Souvenir

    The Souvenir

  • The White Crow

    The White Crow

  • Family


  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco

    The Last Black Man in San Francisco

  • The Farewell

    The Farewell

  • American Woman

    American Woman

  • The Intruder

    The Intruder

  • The Mustang

    The Mustang

  • Tolkien


  • El Chicano

    El Chicano

Did You Know?


Plot Summary


Biography | Drama

Our Favorite Trailers of the Week

See the trailers we loved this week, including "Jessica Jones" Season 3, and Brittany Runs a Marathon. Presented by Microsoft Surface.

Watch our trailer of trailers

Featured on IMDb

See what TV shows editors are excited about this month and check out our guide to Star Wars, video games, and more.

Around The Web


Powered by ZergNet

More To Explore

Search on