Review: “The Devil All The Time” offers a deep, unsettling look at small-town corruption

‘The Devil All The Time’ Twitter | Photo Courtesy
The film is an adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock’s 2011 novel

The film boasts one of the most star-studded casts this year

“The Devil All The Time” is compact–to say the least. With a story that spans multiple generations and nearly a dozen professional film stars, all worthy of gracing the screen, the film has a lot to pack in at just over two hours. While it’s a daunting challenge, director Antonio Campos seems to have completed it as best as possible.

The film may have had a challenging rollout with exactly how to advertise. Is it a mystery thriller? A horror film? To put it simply, it’s a dark drama that’s almost too realistic and gives nearly any viewer chills.

The story is centered on a community that spans throughout Ohio and West Virginia across multiple generations through the mid-1900s. A war veteran returning home from the Pacific (played by the brilliant Bill Skarsgård), faces the trauma of war, as well as a rough return to his wife and child.

Surrounded by violence, grief and trauma, this environment is enacted upon his son, Arvin (one of the central characters, played by Tom Holland). It’s left for Arvin to uncover a trail of deceit, darkness and sinister intentions from much of the community he’s surrounded by.

One of the most notable aspects of this film is its all-star cast. Filled with the reputable talent of actors such as Sebastian Stan, Jason Clarke, Mia Wasikowska and Haley Bennett, along with the many other previously mentioned names, the film showcases a level of talent that few other films have achieved.

While these actors and actresses fill the screen in roles out of their depth, Robert Pattinson most notably delivers one of the best performances on screen this year as Preston Teagardin, a shady preacher with slightly sinister intentions captures the attention of anyone watching.

One key element that was missing from the film was a cohesive, straightforward point to the story. The film seems as if it was rushed due to the deep, sprawling plot that had substories that led to nowhere. Furthermore, the film tends to slow down with scenes that have very little to no impact on other key plot points in the film.

The film acts as a character study into how a dark and violent past can deeply affect the generations to follow. At some point, it’s up to one person to end this chain of violence. While the film never enters the territory of “boring,” its elaborate, complex themes tend to distract the viewer from the film itself. Nevertheless, an entertaining, thought-provoking and star-studded film is all many can ask for right now.

Review: 4/5

Leave a Reply