The Devil All the Time is a Netflix movie that gives Spider-Man actor Tom Holland a chance to show he is more than just a wise-cracking superhero.
Holland is Arvin Russell, a man who grew up after a childhood full of trauma. It actually didn’t start out all bad for Arvin, as he had a mother and father who loved him greatly. However, when his mother developed cancer, his father sacrificed Arvin’s dog to try to barter for her life. The day she died, Arvin’s dad took his own life and the boy lost both parents in the same day.
What would that do to a boy?
The problem with The Devil All the Time is that this entire movie is full of situations like this. It is an unrelenting film and its focus is on religion.
Be warned, this movie holds back no punches and is one step away from torture porn without showing the violence, but instead just the effects of it on people.
Arvin’s father Willard (Bill Skarsgard) fought in the war overseas and came across a soldier sacrificed on a cross. He stopped believing that prayers helped and when his wife died, it was proven. A minister (Harry Melling) that came to his town married a girl that Willard’s mom believed her son should have married and their marriage also procured a little girl named Lenora. Both of her parents also died, with her father murdering her mother and then himself dying at the hands of a Bonnie & Clyde styled duo (Jason Clarke and Riley Keough).
The movie then cuts to Arvin and Lenora years later as they both lived with Arvin’s grandmother. This is when a new preacher came to town (Robert Pattinson) and the sins of the past continued to visit the next generation.
Holland is great in his role as Arvin, as is Pattinson as the new preacher, Willard Russell.
However, the movie is relentless with bad people doing bad things, from the preachers to the police to even the supposed hero of the tale. No one escapes this movie, whether they die or they lose their souls to the end. Even those who want redemption in this movie don’t get it.
It also seems a little strange how all the characters in this tale intersect, and that throws the viewer out a little when it comes to the story. Of course, this does take place in the Appalachian backwoods of Ohio and West Virginia, so it is a little more likely than the big city.
This is a movie about what happens when religion is corrupted by fanaticism. It is as dirty and gross as you might expect, but at the end of the day, that is also what makes it a brilliant film. If you can stomach the bleakness of this movie, it has a strong story to tell.
That alone makes it more than worth the watch.
- In some fun trivia, the narrator of the film is Donald Ray Pollock, the author of the book the movie is based on.