The Devil All the Time

September 10, 202050/1005 min
Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård
Written by
Antonio Campos, Paulo Campos (Screenplay) Donald Ray Pollock (book)
Run Time
2h 18min
Release Date
September 17th, 2020
Overall Score
Rating Summary

If you are looking for rainbows and puppy dogs, Antonio Campos’s southern gothic tale is not for you. However if you like dark interweaving stories that takes place in Southern Ohio and West Virginia from the end of World War II on into the 1960’s, I have found your sweet spot. Led by a stealer cast, The Devil All the Time has religious trauma, serial killers, and families that seem to be connected in so many ways. Plus it pulls back the shades on the darkness that may lie in some of us.

After serving in the Pacific during World War II, Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgård) returns home to West Virginia, but before he does he arrives in Mead, Ohio first. It is there he meets the woman he wants to marry, a waitress named Charlotte ( Haley Bennett), who he sees as an angel. Once home Willard learns he is to marry a woman named Helen (Mia Wasikowska), but fate has a different plan for them both. Charlotte and Willard marry and Helen falls for a preacher, both resulting in kids. Willard’s son is named Arvin (Tom Holland) and Helen’s daughter is Lenora (Eliza Scanlen) and after a pair of tragedies they both end up under the care of Willard’s mother. Years pass and as teenagers Arvin and Lenora are as close as kin and live a simple, if not sometime violent life as Arvin often is protecting Lenora from bullies at school. Things though take a turn when a new preacher arrives in town named Preston Teagardin (Robert Pattinson), as he has a thing for Lenora and the other young girls in his parish. It is that forbidden relationship that sets in motion things that will change everyones life, some in brutal ways.

While the world created by Donald Ray Pollock for his novel and by Antonio and Paulo Campos for the screen is bleak and dark, the performances shine through. Those performances are led by both Pattinson, who once again steals the show in a supporting performance and Holland who you will see flex his acting chops as apposed to the usual way you’ve seen him, flipping around as that wacky web-slinger in the Marvel films. The story weaves a tangled web that is surrounded on all sides by subject matter that will not be an easy watch for some. That also includes the flipping back and forth in the time line to set up all the players  and connecting separate story lines to make it all come together. In this world full of sinners, the consequences are often the same and really if 2020 were a movie this is how it would feel. For me there is more bad than good as even the performances couldn’t save this one for me. The bad includes lingering too long to enhance the gloominess and the intersection of two story lines felt more disconnected than I think was intended. This is just not the movie for the current time and in a world where timing is everything, that’s kind of a big deal.


Available on Netflix

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