Paul (Douglas Reese)’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review by Logan Kenny is a valid, founded analysis of the violence in this film. In particular, I agree with the assessment the film seems to have an emptiness to how it lingers in many regards with an edgelord thirst for blood. When a specific character is murdered by their spouse and crawling under Appalachian trees for an uncomfortable amount of seconds, it really does start to bring to question "what is the point of all this?"
Yes, this is a violent film. But I'm also going to side with Logan here, even though I'm on the opposite side of this polarity when it comes to the film itself, which I really do believe to be a bit misunderstood, but will also refuse the idea that anybody disgusted by this film need to rethink their stance.
In many regards, it could be said I have bias here. The hopeless, godlessness of post-war (and pre-war) Ohio is ripe for me to scrutinize. The young women, the young men in this. They're of the age that would be my grandparents, and I have only heard the minimal horrible stories of the hills that stretch on down into the Virginias - and that has a lot to do with that evangelical history.
If there's one thing this film does do, and in a very sinister way mind you, is illuminate how compatible the evangelical groupthink is with, say, a couple of serial killers. It invites so much, here, to really chew over. My grandma alone told me stories of how murders would be undisclosed on the basis of community preaching. I don't think it's all that random to include the crooked sheriff in the madness.
If you ask me, that's the pinnacle of Southern Gothic. Much like Williams and the "its always been this way, therefore this is all I know" bigotry and power of the plantation family/setting in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Or the general-turned-murderer because he's a repressed gay in Reflections in a Golden Eye. Hell, McCarthy even went a step further with a woman character snipping her nipples off in an act of desperation for control.
The Devil All the Time is one mythos-driven representation of a blood-drenched land that has remained drenched in blood that others have collectively swept into the currents of the river. It may join my list of great films that I haven't a thrill to rewatch anytime soon, as I'm definitely understanding its divisiveness.
However, I can't think of piece of work in a while that indicts the passivity and willful ignorance hidden under family, spirit, and other elements of the human condition in that area.
Note: if anything, the reviews praising the brutality of the film without talking about its religious themes or geographical contexts make me really damn uncomfortable.