‘The Devil All The Time’ Review


spoiler warning

The hype for ‘The Devil All The Time’, the latest Netflix film starring Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, and Bill Skarsgard; has been huge ever since the release of the trailer last month.

The star studded cast taking on the southern story based on the book of the same name, was so intriguing to most, especially since a majority of the cast was not actually American, let alone southern.

In fact, eight of the thirteen main cast members are from other countries. That includes, Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Robert Pattinson, Jason Clark, and Eliza Scanlen; who make up a majority of the screen time.

One of the things that got everyone so interested after seeing the trailer was the southern accents that all of the cast members used. It came across almost silly at first watch. As someone from the south, I heard tons of people around me say

“Do they think that’s what southern people sound like?” And to answer their question, yes. And they nailed it.

While watching the film, you completely forget all about the fact that these are your favorite actors. They no longer were Spider-Man, Pennywise the Clown, and Edward. They became Arvin Russel, Willard Russel, and the despicable Reverend Preston.

The film is unique in the fact that it trades off main characters throughout, all being tied together by the narrator Donald Ray Pollock, who is the original author of the book.

The film starts following the story of Willard Russel, a man haunted by the war who on his return back home, meets a woman and falls in love. They have a son named Arvin, and everything seems really good.

While we are watching the nice family life of the Russels, we meet the extreme pastor Roy Laferty. Who after demonstrating that God has his back by pouring live spiders all over him, marries a nice girl named Helen Hatton. They have a child and everything seems really good. (See the pattern?)

Roy becomes more and more deranged until he finally snaps, thinking that God has given him the powers to resurrect the dead. He tries to prove this, by stabbing his wife in the neck.

Turns out, God did not give him the power to resurrect the dead. Who would have thought?

He hides the body and tries to get back home to see his daughter, but gets kidnapped by serial killer, husband and wife duo, Carl and Sandy. Roy becomes one of the several victims that Carl forces to sleep with his wife, photographs, and then murders.

That leaves Roy and Helen’s daughter Lenora in the custody of their close friend and neighbor, Emma Russel, Willard’s mother.

We snap back into the nice little home of Willard, his wife, and his now nine year old son Arvin. Everything is going quite nicely, Willard is a good father, Arvin is a good kid, it’s a great life for the family.

That is until Willard’s wife gets cancer and sends Willard over the edge. After some pretty disgusting, terrible, and tragic events, (See: Crucified Family Dog), the film shifts its focus to the now grown, orphaned Arvin.

After the death of his parents, Arvin is now in the custody of his grandmother, Emma. Not only did he gain a new maternal figure, but he also gained a sister. The also orphaned Lenora.

They are as close as sibling get, they did everything together. Arvin would get into fights with the boys who picked on his sister, and sit with her at her mothers grave every day after school.

Then the towns pastor has to go away on some business, and in his place, his nephew Reverend Preston takes over.

Reverend Preston is Robert Pattinson’s latest amazing performance. Playing the role of southern despicable human, and southern amazing preacher, with such believability that I almost forgot that I was looking at the new Batman!

Everything he says makes you want to punch him in the face, and that only escalates after he manipulates Lenora into sleeping with him. He gets her pregnant, then tells her that she should just find a way to get rid of the baby. Which in turn, causes her death.

With his sister now dead, we watch Arvin take on revenge like an old friend, as he visits the Reverend in the church. After an incredible scene between Holland and Pattinson, that kick starts with the line

“Excuse me, Preacher. You got time for a sinner?”

the devil all the time | Tumblr
the devil all the time | Tumblr

Phew. Gives me chills. The rest of the film follows Arvin on the run from the law, running into our favorite serial killer spouses, and eventually the police.

The film ends open ended, just like the novel. With Arvin hitchhiking, contemplating about his future. After everything he has been through, seeing him fall asleep in a strangers car made me nervous that something bad was going to happen, but alas we will never know.

Tom Holland’s performance was superb throughout the entire film, showing that he has the range to be more than just a Marvel hero. His complete dive into the southern accent, complex anger issues, and fight scenes; show how great of an actor he really is.

The moment when he is at a standstill with Sandy, begging her to put her gun down, was the perfect example of how great Holland really is. When Sandy pulls the trigger first, and Holland shoots his gun in panic, the look on his face was so genuine that it stuck in my head even a day later as I’m writing this.

Holland isn’t the only acting masterclass in this film, Bill Skarsgard gives such a great performance as the war vet who is driven insane. That his switch from attractive, wholesome family man, to deranged christian is not only so fun to watch, but is so organic.

Not to be out-acted, Robert Pattinson’s performance as the evil Reverend, cannot be spoken about enough. Already known as an amazing character actor, he takes the extra step to disguise himself in the role. With the year he is having, there is no doubt he will be known as one of the greatest of our generation for decades to come.

The hidden gem of the entire film is the performance of Riley Keough as Sandy. The way that she shows the fall from grace of an attractive young woman into the depressed, abused woman that her husband turns her into, is phenomenal.

There is a sadness in her eyes, as she is forced to take part in the serial killing again and again, all the way until she is forced to pull the trigger herself. Leading to her death. Keough does an absolute amazing job playing a character of such deep trauma and abuse.

The entire film is filled with amazing performances, even smaller roles like Roy Laferty, played by Harry Melling (Dudley from Harry Potter), are so in depth and entertaining, that I find myself not able to remember one thing that I didn’t like.

Surely, the film has it’s issues, but I was so distracted by the amazing characters that these actors and actresses brought to life. As well as the phenomenal script which gave us some of the most quotable moments from film this year. I don’t even want to search from problems, I just want to enjoy and appreciate what I just saw.

Have you watched The Devil All The Time? Did you enjoy it? Tell us what you think!

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