The Devil All The Time Preaches Well Past Sunday

“Some people were born just so they could be buried.”


Photo courtesy of IMDb

Solomon Kenworthy, Web Editor

     Movies like this are why there are things called “short films.” 

     The Devil All The Time was released on Netflix in 2020 and was directed by Antonio Campos. The film stars Tom Holland as Arvin Russell, Robert Pattison as Preacher Teagardin, and Bill Skarsgård as Willard Russell. Based on the book by Donald Ray Pollock, the story follows two generations of the Russel family as they try to unravel the dark mysteries of a small Ohio town, Knockemstiff.

     The performances are all fantastic; Pattinson and Skarsgård are practically unrecognizable in their deep southern accents. The standout actor is Holland, as he not only excels in his own work but also works off others very well. A scene in which Holland’s character confronts Pattinson’s is the best example of the raw acting talent presented in the film. 

     The script is poorly paced, to the point where the main story doesn’t really start until around the 50-minute mark. There’s lots of unnecessary backstory that adds practically nothing to the story or characters. There are only two times that the backstory contributes to the narrative, which is unnecessarily shoved in the audience’s face. For example, they try to show a parallel between Arvin and his father by cutting back to a scene that took place earlier. Unfortunately, this does nothing but treat the audience with disrespect, as well as get rid of any subtlety that could’ve been found. 

     The most unnecessary aspect of the film, though, is its voice-over (V.O.). The V.O. was done by the writer of the book, which is cool, but the film forgets that unless your narrator is someone in the story, it doesn’t need to be there. 

     Another major problem with the script is its poor use of parallel storytelling. It tries to give us three different stories that do connect at the end, but there’s never enough time to fully develop any other story besides the central one. This also hurts the run time and makes the other storyline irrelevant, the story would have been much better suited as a short film. 

     The directing is competent but is rarely used to further the overall plot, so rarely in fact, that it’s not even worth mentioning when it does. It felt like director Campos thought he was being very poetic with the way the film is shot, but in reality this comes across as in-your-face and preachy. 

     The only thing the film has going for it are the performances. No clever pun or anything like that, The Devil All The Time is simply not good. 


[My Grade for The Devil All The Time is a C-]