The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time ★★★

An ambitious effort by Antonio Campos, ‘The Devil All The Time’ is a dark, gritty film supported by a cast of some of Hollywood’s contemporary favourites (paging Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson, among others).

For such a grim, somber film, I felt very emotionally disconnect from both the narrative and characters. The narrative timeline was heavily fractured (despite at least attempting to tie each of its vignettes together succinctly), and the transitions between vignettes and timelines was often jarring. The narration was also highly unnecessary, as where it should have been there to support the on-screen action or the characterisation of a protagonist, it merely seemed as though the narrative didn’t respect its viewer’s intelligence enough to not force the story down their throats.

It is more than clear that this film had all intentions on being as dark and dreary as possible from the offset, but it often feels so intensely dark that it reaches a point of unnecessary. The narrative lacks motivation behind each of its many vignettes, and provides little reason for empathy or care towards any of the plagued characters outside of because the film wants us to. The film is clearly ambitious in its craft, but pushes darkness and gloom to where it simply becomes pretentiousness, wrapped up in its evil and religious subplots.

I didn’t find this film to be dull, and it offered enough to keep audiences entertained, but there was little offered as to why we should care for anything presented to us. Outside of its plot that is more focused on being dark than it is on telling a compelling narrative, and characters that are little more than exteriors, the film has a few interesting creative elements technical-wise, but little else. There is enough here to enjoy, but nothing wildly special.

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