Brutal, violent and thought provoking, The Devil All The Time tells a story which is ultimately about love, betrayal and revenge. This movie made me question how far people are willing to go when blindly following their faith. Faith which for this purpose is mostly misguided. Post WW2, people turned to religion as a way to deal with the long lasting effects war had on them and as a starting point we meet war veteran, Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgård) who returns home after losing all faith following his exposure to a crucified, insect ridden corpse in the line of battle. He’s also a lot less scary out of the clown costume!
Throughout the film there’s a series of events which link the characters together and there’s a full cause and effect for everything we see. It also links two towns in Ohio and West Virginia by the events which take place. The story journeys between time and essentially revolves around Arvin, played by Tom Holland. Don’t expect to see anything remotely similar to cheeky, nerdy Peter Parker though. This movie is dark and leaves you questioning different concepts. Son of Willard and his true love at first sight, Charlotte (Haley Bennett), Arvin’s childhood experiences of violence and death have long lasting effects which dictate the course he takes throughout the story. As different as this role is, Tom doesn’t disappoint. At all. He’s able to portray someone whose loyalty and lost innocence lead him into some very sinister moments.
As a teenager, Arvin is very protective over his adoptive sister, Lenora (Eliza Scanlen). This is the reason for some of the movie’s most brutal scenes. Her father, Preacher Roy Laferty (Harry Melling) seduces her mother, Helen (Mia Wasikowska) with spiders to portray his faith in God. That scene creeped me out so much but is probably one of it’s most memorable. I still feel like they are on me! In its truest example of blind faith, Roy takes actions he believes God is asking of him. The devastating consequences lead him to meet serial killers Carl (Jason Clarke) and Sandy (Riley Keough) and the combination of those events are what leads to Lenora being taken in by Arvin’s grandma.
There is so much sorrow in this film. But it’s the arrival of the new Reverend Preston Teagardin (Robert Pattinson) which acts as the catalyst towards the movie’s final chapter. It was intriguing to watch the town flock around their new Reverend who, behind the smoke screen, should be practicing what he preaches. At a pivotal time in his career, Pattinson is exceptional is depicting a sleazy man who takes complete advantage of his powerful position. His indiscretions have some huge consequences and once again leave you in disbelief at people’s ability to act out of character when influenced by a higher power. The same could be said for Sheriff Lee Bodecker (Sebastian Stan) who abuses his power to turn a blind eye when needed.
One thing I took from the movie is how much love is often connected to and the motivation for some awful actions. Tom Holland’s character made me ponder the question, if someone does bad things with good intentions, does that make them a completely bad person? We’ve seen many members of the cast in huge franchises before such as Marvel, Harry Potter and Twilight. Here they have all taken on roles which are pretty much opposite to what we’ve seen them do before, which results in some truly fantastic performances. Each character has an impact and seeing how cleverly their paths are intertwined plays out fabulously. The narration from Donald Ray Pollock who wrote the novel the movie is adapted from, really enhanced the viewing experience as it’s often his comments which make your mind wonder.
We all love a film which leaves you thinking and I really feel like that’s what this movie does. It’s an intricate story; a psychological thriller which cleverly weaves together numerous plots, which all come to a head in one big showdown.