The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time ★★★½

Sinister characters converge around a young man (Tom Holland) devoted to protecting those he loves in a postwar backwoods town teeming with corruption and brutality.

The Devil All the Time is a sprawling and brutal midwestern gothic crime drama starring (*deep breath*) Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan, Haley Bennett, Eliza Scanlen, Mia Wasikowska, and Robert Pattinson (Jake Gyllenhaal is a producer of the movie too). With a cast so large and so consistent good, nobody really sticks out but Skarsgård (as a war vet with PTSD) and Pattinson (as a corrupt preacher) get the juicier, showy material, while Holland (miles away from Peter Parker) gives a great, delicately underplayed performance. 

The movie features a series of interconnected (and in some cases, unconnected) characters who move around Southern Ohio and West Virginia, with murder, trauma, regret, and religion all playing big parts in the narrative. This isn’t a “feel good” movie. If a character isn’t sinister, they’re affected by one of the sinister characters, and never in a good way. Even Holland’s Arvin beats the ever-loving-shit out of some dudes, but he’s defending his stepsister so at least he’s got good cause, even if he goes overboard. 

The movie is probably a little long (but it never felt like it dragged to me), and it’s structure doesn’t always work as the movie lacks narrative focus (I did like the third act a lot though), but the gothic atmosphere, great performances, and darkly comic narration by Donald Ray Pollock (the author of the book the movie’s based on) make this dark, violent, and challenging movie worth watching.

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