THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME Review; "A Powerful, Moving Piece Of Storytelling"

THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME Review; "A Powerful, Moving Piece Of Storytelling"

The Devil All The Time arrives on Netflix this Wednesday, and we now have a spoiler-free review delving into the psychological thriller starring Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, and Bill Skarsgård...

Based on Donald Ray Pollock's novel of the same name, The Devil All The Time arrives on Netflix this Wednesday, and features a jaw-dropping cast of A-List talent which proves that, these days, you really can get that theatrical experience in the comfort of your own home. Set in rural Ohio and West Virginia, the film follows an eclectic group of characters from the end of World War II through to the dawn of the Vietnam War, with the stories of a despicable preacher (Robert Pattinson), two serial killers (Jason Clarke and Riley Keough), a crooked sheriff with big aspirations (Sebastian Stan), and a young man with a tragic past (Tom Holland) the focus as their lives converge in unexpected and often sadistic ways. 

With so many characters to put a spotlight on (Bill Skarsgård, Haley Bennett, and Mia Wasikowska all also play key roles), it's inevitable that not all of them get the screentime they need for their respective stories to be told as effectively as they probably should have been. What led to that sheriff's descent into corruption? Why do Carl Henderson and his wife travel the country killing men and photographing their corpses? There's enough material here to draw your own conclusions, and we're only ever really getting a glimpse into all their lives, but with Holland's damaged Arvin Russell explored in such a satisfying way, it's sometimes a little tricky to buy into the other leads to the same extent.

That aside, there's a strong story at the heart of The Devil All The Time, but make no mistake about it, it doesn't make for cheerful viewing. Arvin is perhaps the only truly good person here (outside of his step sister and the relatives who take him in), but his journey takes him to some unbelievably dark places, and the violence on display throughout the entire film is both unsettling and effectively used. However, if you're a dog lover, be warned that there's one hard-hitting moment, in particular, it will be tricky to unsee.

Holland is excellent, showcasing his range in a way that a Spider-Man movie can't. As events around him escalate, we're sucked into what he's going through in a way it's impossible to look away from, and he remains as likeable a presence on screen here as when he's decked out in spandex. Pattinson's performance is in equal parts brilliant and weird, and while he initially feels like a strange choice for the character he's playing, it all makes sense when his true nature is revealed. Ultimately, it's those two that steal the show, but there's not a bad performance to be found in The Devil All The Time, and a theatrical release could help the two Brits receive some much-deserve awards recognition next year. Unfortunately, Stan is somewhat underused, but that's part and parcel of his character being woefully underwritten and not a knock on his talent. Eliza Scanlen's performance also stands out in a movie where female characters are perhaps too often victims, while Harry Potter's Harry Melling is unrecognisable and brilliant as a deluded preacher. 

Director Antonio Campos does a superb job of bringing Pollock's novel to life, and the way these stories intersect is extremely clever. Things unfold in a way that's in equal parts exciting and easy to follow (in a lesser filmmaker's hands, events could have very easily become convoluted and muddled), and it's never not fascinating to explore this world. The rural setting and often despicable people who inhabit it look undeniably superb on film, and there are enough twists and unexpected, haunting moments to keep fans of psychological thrillers hooked. 

The Devil All The Time is a powerful, moving piece of storytelling, bolstered with incredible performances that make it easy to overlook the odd underwritten character and material that's occasionally too heavy hitting and grim. 
 

IF
 

THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME releases globally on Netflix September 16.

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