The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time ★★★½

The Devil All the Time is often as bleak as the most pitch black of noirs. Set in the American South of the 1950's and 1960's, the movie uses a corrosive version of corrupted faith to strip away the veneer of the happy nuclear family, and the joy of the free love generation that followed it, laying bare the ugly imperfections of society that lie beneath. 

The movie features a stellar cast of Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgard, Sebastian Stan, Riley Keough, Eliza Scanlen, Mia Goth and Jason Clarke. They elevate the unrelentingly dark material and give the breath of air that the script refuses to with the strength of their performances. Tom Holland does an excellent job here as a damaged young man suffering from PTSD caused by an extremely traumatizing childhood and Pattinson is excellent as a slimy, hypocritical preacher. 

The narrative is a little convoluted and feels carefully contrived in a way that is a little distracting and it is perhaps a little overlong. What really works here is the atmosphere (enhanced by a very good musical score from Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans) and immersive, grainy cinematography that gives the entire experience an aged quality. The story is one of those 'separate tales eventually converge' things that are pretty easy to get wrong by having the inevitable paths crossing moment feel forced. Though this does not entirely escape that trap, the tense pay off is well worth it and entirely engaging. It also features one of the most haunting uses of photo negatives I have seen. 

The Devil All the Time grapples with themes of trauma, recovery, forgiveness and retribution in some really interesting ways - all while a pair of serial killers circle the edges of normal social concerns, constantly reminding that there is always something worse out there than the things that take up space in our minds on a daily basis. It's a solid movie and worth checking out for the cast if for no other reason, but may be a little too consistently bleak and hopeless an experience for some. 

[Final Thought - I work at a comic shop for one of my jobs, so I am forced to make the obligatory darkest timeline Avengers observation about Spider-Man and Winter Soldier here, even though I hate myself for it]

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