THE DEVIL ALL OF THE TIME (2020) Reviews of Netflix psychological thriller

   

‘Some people are just born to be buried.’

The Devil All the Time is a 2020 American feature film in which sinister characters in a small-town converge around a young man. Unfortunately, the postwar backwoods community is teeming with corruption, brutality and secrets.

Directed by Antonio Campos from a screenplay co-written with Paulo Campos, based on Donald Ray Pollock’s novel, the Borderline Films-Nine Stories Productions movie stars Robert Pattinson, Harry Melling, Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Mia Wasikowska, Haley Bennett.

Plot:

Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, the story follows a cast of compelling and bizarre characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s.

There’s Willard Russell, a tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific, who can’t save his beautiful wife, Charlotte, from an agonizing death by cancer no matter how much sacrificial blood he pours on his “prayer log.”

There’s Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial killers, who troll America’s highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate.

There’s the spider-handling preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick, Theodore, running from the law. And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin Eugene Russell, Willard and Charlotte’s orphaned son, who grows up to be a good but also violent man in his own right…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

” …a hard-boiled, blood-soaked story full of unsettled mood and unrelenting dread, with an impressive cast that sells every second of it. Even when the script short changes them, only due to the source material’s magnitude, it’s an ambitious effort that mesmerizes. That the runtime zips by and leaves you hanging for more, despite how final things conclude, speaks volumes of this dark, often depressing thriller.” Bloody Disgusting

“It’s the most troublesome sort of dichotomy, as The Devil All the Time slips through the cracks and into the lukewarm waters of mediocrity. While the film is still enjoyable to a degree, the finished product sits firmly on the fence of either requiring a good trim to tighten up on one story, or a more free range approach to let the multiple plots build themselves more freely.” CinemaBlend

” …the atmosphere really is all-pervasive. For some this Godless tale of the evil that men do might be just too nihilistic, but that can’t detract from Campos’ meticulous construction of a time and a place, and the powerhouse performances all round. You might not like what you’re watching but it’s almost impossible to look away.” Den of Geek

” …feels less like a worthy tribute to Pollock’s sanguinary prose than an odd, slightly irksome blend of movie and audiobook. A mixed bag of bones and bodies, whose Southern Gothic atmosphere and superb performances — from Holland especially — are let down by the film’s lack of narrative focus.” Empire

“However dark the narrative may seem, there’s a strong streak of black humour that accompanies the horror, often facilitated by a pointedly chosen tune. What’s remarkable, considering the unwieldy storyline, is that it should all hang together on screen, thanks in no small part to Pollock’s guiding hand – or larynx.” The Guardian

“Donald Ray Pollock as narrator punctuates each key moment as his pages come to life, but Antonio Campos and brother Paulo ensure their bullet-proof screenplay pushes the conflict to its bloody conclusion and leaves little to question.” Screen Anarchy

“Perhaps Campos is too closely wedded to Pollock’s book (the author even provides the voiceover) to allow it to entirely adjust to a new medium. But for such a harrowing experience, it’s a pity that the emotional payoff is rather muted.” Total Film

“The violent kinkiness is everywhere, yet in another way it’s just window dressing […] The Devil All the Time shows us a lot of bad behavior, but the movie isn’t really interested in what makes the sinners tick. And without that lurid curiosity, it’s just a series of Sunday School lessons: a noir that wants to scrub away the darkness.” Variety

Release:

The Devil All the Time will premiere on Netflix on September 16, 2020.

Main cast and characters:

Robert Pattinson … Preston Teagardin
Harry Melling … Roy Laferty
Tom Holland … Arvin Eugene Russell
Riley Keough … Sandy Henderson
Haley Bennett … Charlotte Russell
Bill Skarsgård … Willard Russell
Sebastian Stan … Lee Bodecker
Eliza Scanlen … Lenora Laferty
Mia Wasikowska … Helen Hatton
Jason Clarke … Carl Henderson
Douglas Hodge … Tater Brown
Drew Starkey … Tommy Matson
Lucy Faust … Cynthia Teagardin
Given Sharp … Susie Cox
Abby Glover … Pamela Sue Reaster
Cory Scott Allen … Sheriff Thompson
Michael Banks Repeta … Arvin Russell (9 Years Old)
Kristin Griffith … Emma

Filming locations:

Alabama

Technical details:

138 minutes