Review | The Devil All The Time Was a Helluva Ride, Most of the Time

Review | The Devil All The Time Was a Helluva Ride, Most of the Time

The Devil All the Time is a film adapted for Netflix from the novel of the same name written by Donald Ray Pollock. It has a wonderful cast of actors whose strengths are featured in this slow burn psychological thriller. The religious ideals are tested as what is considered “right” is in the eye of the beholder. 

There are moments in The Devil All The Time that are assembled and revealed so well. The way everything unfolds will make you question everyone’s morals. Director Antonio Campos made some great moments that will completely catch you off guard because their graphic reality. Some characters have a more timid presence making the more gruesome scenes were shocking. 

On paper, this cast is incredible but the way they are all placed and spread out in the film left me underwhelmed.

The first half of this film introduces us to Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgård) and Carl Henderson (Jason Clarke) in a restaurant. They are both very reserved but you can tell, something is waiting to snap. It’s in the veil behind their eyes. In this town, all the men had the same look — crazy eyes with an understated, timid demeanor.

Is Too Much Talent a Curse For The Devil All The Time?

Credit: Glen Wilson/Netflix 
(Left) Bill Skarsgård as Willard Russell, Michael Banks Repeta as Young Arvin Russell

Even though the central story is about the demons of lineage and family trauma, Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) and the women in this film were severely underused. How can you cast Haley Bennett, Mia Wasikowska, Riley Keough and Eliza Scanlen but underuse them? That’s what happened. The women in this story advanced the plot… of the men in the town.

It was frustrating given how much talent they have. 

The Devil All The Time is a very slow film about Christians in the 1950s. Its premise is how everyone’s morals can be tested through what is deemed as “the correct way” to live. Everyone moves in secret. We all have demons. That is why the title of this film makes complete sense–if only we got to see everyone’s demons in this film. We are reminded in The Devil All The Time that the devil will tempt you at every turn. It is up to you and your compass to decipher what is right or wrong in the face of God. 

The saviours of the second half of this film are Tom Holland, Eliza Scanlen and the king of accents Robert Pattinson. After 40 minutes, the film picks up and we are taken into the lives of Arvin Russell and Lenora Lafferty (Eliza Scanlen) as a new Reverend comes into town named Preston Teagardin (Pattinson) who changes everyone’s lives. 

The Devil All the Time seems like a very long journey with all these characters. They all have something to hide but turn to God to guide them in what they consider the “right” direction. Morals are tested. Lives are at stake. And the executioner can be sitting right beside them in church. It has great performances with an ending that will mirror your feelings by the end.


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