The Devil All the Time: Netflix Film Review

The Devil All the Time

With an incredible A-list line-up including Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, and Sebastian Stan, I couldn’t resist checking out Antonio Campos‘ The Devil All the Time. I had seen a lot of mixed reviews online but I really liked it.

The epic, sprawling movie follows a number of characters and interweaving storylines in Ohio and West Virginia between 1945 to 1965. First up, we have Willard (Bill Skarsgard), who takes extreme measures when his wife Charlotte (Haley Bennett) gets sick, the pious Helen (Mia Wasikowska) and her delusional preacher husband Roy (Harry Melling), and Sandy (Riley Keough) and Carl (Jason Clarke), serial killers who pick up hitchhikers as their prey. The action continues sometime later and follows Willard and Charlotte’s son Arvin (Holland), Helen and Roy’s daughter Lenora (Eliza Scanlen), and a new preacher Preston Teagardin (Pattinson), who abuses his position. Stan plays a corrupt police officer-turned-sheriff and Sandy’s brother.

It took me a while to get into the movie because there was some jumping back and forth in time and location, but once the structure settled down, I really enjoyed the narrative and how the stories came together, even if they were super dark, bleak and brutal (so much death!) The film really hit its stride and gripped me once Holland showed up as I cared about his character and his story the most. Coming in at two hours 18 minutes, the film is way too long and it feels longer as it’s slow and meandering in places, so Campos could have done with tightening up the pace and cutting out some unnecessary scenes. For example, Stan’s character has very little impact on the story and could have easily been cut out.

Holland was the star of the show although he had tough competition from Pattinson, who camped it up and amused me with his bizarre and inconsistent high-pitched Southern accent, although I’m sure this wasn’t the intention. I’ve learned that he didn’t hire a dialect coach and formed the accent himself and this explanation sure makes a lot of sense. Holland was the heart and soul of the piece as a good person surrounded by bad people and I liked seeing him in such a different role. Another standout was Melling, who was thoroughly creepy as the uncontrollable preacher, but he should try to branch out into other parts. I was disappointed that none of the female characters had much agency of their own and were all there to service the men’s arcs.

The Devil All the Time is much better than I expected it to be. Sure, it has some flaws and is far too long but I liked it a lot.

Streaming on Netflix now

Rating: 4/5

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