The cinematic harvest has been all but barren this season. A drought has hit heavy, all the fat cat film studios have winced away and shelved their products, leaving us hungry and desperate for entertainment scraps. Disney saw the desperation and dished up a bowl of Mulan soup behind a pay wall, disgusting to be quite frank.
But what’s this? Netflix has offered up a piping hot dish for us to tuck into, and thats exactly what this film is, its a heavy platter of fried chicken livers. Not exactly a delicacy but the more you eat the more you come to appreciate the taste and by the end of it you’ll have satisfied a deep hunger but you’ll be left with a rather unpleasant taste upon your tongue that’ll linger for a considerable amount of time.
The Devil all the time, Written by Antonio and Paulo Campos and directed by Antonio Campos. This film is an adaptation of the 2011 novel with the same name, written by Danial Ray Pollock (who acts as the narrator within this film). This film takes a deep dive into the twisted and dark heartland of a post Second World War America. The film spans over a number of years as its multigenerational tale with ‘Tom Hollands’ character Arvin Russell being the focal point.
There’s a lot going on throughout this flick, there’s a massive number of characters and threads woven through its run time. One of the main lynchpins that a number of the different characters and story threads draw from is that of religion. We first meet ‘Bill Skarsgard’s’ character Willard Russell as he has returned from the war bearing a heavy weight of PTSD from the horrific things he’s witnessed in the war, these same things have also alienated him from his faith as he no longer finds solace within prayer.
Years later after his son is born Willard has returned to his faith which he turns upon when his wife falls ill with cancer, he becomes a desperate man and makes radical decisions (involving the family dog) in hopes to appease the lord and in turn save his wife. These Radical decisions set his son Arvin Russell on a path in life that is steeped in violence, torment, desperation and sin.
This film is a tour de force of talent, the stand out performances go to ‘Tom Holland’ as Arvin Russell and ‘Robert Pattinson’ as Rev. Preston Teagardin and ‘Bill Skarsgard’ as Willard Russell. Pattinson’s character truly is detestable and just revolting but the charm and magnetism he extrudes is undeniable as he uses his role as a preacher as a mask to manipulate and take advantage of ‘Eliza Scanlen’s’ character Lenora Laferty to name but one of his victims.
He’s a man who knows he has a position of power and he uses this to poison, as is a running theme of this film those with power using it to violate. For a small town thats situated within the so called bible belt, religion is used as a tool to commit acts most vile. This theme can be witnessed within the other storylines such as ‘Jason Clarke’s’ character who drives from town to town with his wife played by ‘Riley Keough’ picking up hitch hikers with the intention to photograph and kill them, and ‘Sebastian Stan’s’ character who plays a sheriff and will do anything no matter how heinous to keep that position.
The overall pacing of the film was solid, it was steady enough to grab the attention but once it picked up momentum it had no trouble keeping hold of that attention, however, I will say this the film is a lot to digest, there’s a lot of movie going on here with the vast amount of characters and plot threads. This is where it slightly falls down for me unfortunately. The run time is already quite lengthy as is but I think it would’ve benefitted if it ran a little longer, allowing a number of characters the breathing room they deserved.
Overall this is a well constructed film, despite there being a large number of characters and accompanying storylines it all interconnects quite tidily by the time the credits roll (wink!). The performances are stellar every single cast each as depraved as the last delivers thier best. The Devil All The Time is the kind film where you know exactly what’s going to happen to the dog thats present in a number of scenes, what happens to the dog? Well he’s shot in the head and crucified of course. This is an exploration into the putrified black heart of middle America where corruption, violence and perversion run just as deep as their malignant faith.