The Devil All the Time offers an incredible cast, excellent performances, and a dark, sad story. The movie follows loosely-entwined characters in the rural “sticks” of Southern Ohio and West Virginia. It takes place in the late 1940s to 1960s. The story focuses mainly on Arvin Russell who, as a young boy and a young man, experiences violence, tragedy, and backwoods corruption.
The Devil All the Time was released in September 2020 and is now streaming on Netflix. It’s run time is 2 hours and 18 minutes and it’s rated R. It’s based on the 2011 novel by Donald Ray Pollock, and the author himself narrates the film.
No-Spoiler Review of The Devil All the Time
The Internet classifies this movie as a mystery and psychological thriller, though there isn’t a lot that you need to unravel or piece together. I found it to be fairly predictable, but not in a bad way. It was fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat viewing that I thoroughly enjoyed. There were many times in the movie where I said, “I know what’s going to happen,” and as soon as I had myself tensed up into a ball to prepare for it – BAM – it happened.
The story moves along with excellent pacing, covering multiple generations over the course of 20 years. There are three story lines that weave together superficially, but satisfyingly. This is the type of movie where they switch back and forth between three story lines and weave in past and present. But there was nothing super complex about it and it was all easy enough to follow.
This is a dark, intense movie. There are literally no happy moments. But it wasn’t scary and it wasn’t horror – which I felt the trailer hinted at. The Devil All the Time is just a sad, tragic story of a young boy and the sinister people he had the misfortune of interacting with.
Is The Devil All the Time ok for kids? Hell no. This movie is a solid R for it’s bloody violence, overall intensity, and, to a lesser extent, language and sexual content. There’s also some disturbing animal violence.
The Devil All the Time Cast
The standout performance in this movie is without a doubt Tom Holland as Arvin Russell. We’re used to seeing Tom as the adorable Spider-Man, and this role is a complete 180. His performance was gritty and emotional and he was the best part of the movie.
Robert Pattinson was a thrill in his role as Preacher Teagardin. He is simultaneously a snotty brat, a power-tripping preacher, and manipulative sleaze. He was fun to watch, though at times he seemed almost a parody of his character, so I don’t know that I’d classify his acting as outstanding. And his voice drove me crazy. It was high-pitched and I wondered if he might have been struggling with the southern drawl accent. Or maybe it was intentional – another layer of his character to make us feel uncomfortable.
Bill Skarsgård, who plays Arvin’s father Willard, is always incredible and this was no exception. He portrays the desperation of a man losing his wife with perfection.
Another big name in this movie is Sebastian Stan, who plays lawman Lee Bodecker. I did not even recognize him for the first half of the movie with his short hair and just a little more weight on him than Bucky Barnes. He looked, well… old in this movie and I didn’t like it. My personal feelings about his looks aside, he did a great job in his role. And though he didn’t have a ton of screen time, he did deliver one of the film’s best lines, “Some people were born just so they can be buried.”
Eliza Scanlen’s performance is solid as the lonely and vulnerable Lenora, Arvin’s non-biological sister who gets wrapped up with the sinister preacherman. You might know Scanlen from her role as Amma in Sharp Objects.
Riley Keough (who – fun fact! – is the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley) plays Sandy, an increasingly reluctant accomplice to her serial-killer husband (Jason Clarke). I enjoyed her performance immensely and hope to see her in more.
Overall, I give The Devil All the Time a B+. It’s definitely worth the watch for the cast and acting alone.
If you liked The Devil All the Time, I recommend you check out Castle Rock on Hulu.