The Devil All the Time – Review

Rating: 18
Cast: Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan and Eliza Scanlen
Directed by Antonio Campos
Written by Donald Ray Pollock (Novel), Antonio Campos and Paulo Campos
Length: 138mins

Once again, Netflix have delivered another fan favourite with their latest release, ‘The Devil All the Time.’ Pitching massively popular actors and actresses such as Tom Holland, Eliza Scanlen and Robert Pattinson against each other, as well as solidifying the cast with more experienced actors such as Jason Clarke and Riley Keough, the film delivers an intriguing story that’s fleshed out by the diverse range of performers.

From the title to almost every scene within the story, it’s very clear that ‘The Devil All the Time’ is deeply interested in the role that Christianity plays in everyday lives, and how some can become corrupted by their belief. You’d struggle to find any character that you could label as ‘morally good’ within the film, but ‘The Devil All the Time’ definitely utilises the influence of faith over a person to explore just how manipulative a character can become. By setting the story during a period of American culture – particularly in the South – where Christianity was so popular, there are almost no characters who ever question the actions of the church. This particular idea is often what draws the most amount of intrigue to a scene, with characters being seemingly free to interpret the word of the bible to whatever suits them best. As a result of this, the story becomes an allegorical reflection of the way that those with power almost always maintain their hold over others, with the rest remaining inconsequential, no matter the form that such power takes. 

It’s undeniable that the film has an interesting story to work from, with the interwoven characters and settings allowing for a rich context for the potential story’s basis. However, the actual execution of such a layout feels as if it falls short. Despite the main plot points of the story appearing to play out not so far from one another, the film fails to create a strong connection between locations and events, and ultimately just leaves the viewer to watch places come and go as each section of the plot plays out. 

One of the greatest issues I found with the film is the constant use of narration throughout. Whilst it’s a nice idea to allow the author of the source novel to take up of the role of the omniscient spectator, the incessant inclusion of their comments often would take away any form of ambiguity or intrigue from a scene, with the characters intentions and emotions being explicitly laid out before the viewer. A traditional-style story such as ‘The Devil All the Time’ definitely suits some narration, but perhaps one that isn’t as intrusive and frequent as the one used within the film. 

‘The Devil All the Time’ is definitely a film worth seeing, and it’s great to see that larger corporations are constantly working towards releasing new and original content in collaboration with interesting creators such as Antonio Campos, especially when it looks as if we might be becoming even more reliant on these streaming services once again in the coming months.

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