Sheldon Farough’s review published on Letterboxd:
I had no idea what to expect from this. When it first came out I remember some buzz about it and kind of expected it to maybe get some award noms so I added it to my list but then nothing. I think this is a decent movie with some great aspects that could have been an amazing movie.
I love the atmosphere of this movie. Campos puts together this really dark southern 50s thing that I really dig. The cinematography is solid. The music is great. A lot of the characters are really messed up and really religious which kind of annoyed me at times but also worked in a really cool way. I like the characters. I think Arvin had a lot of potential. I like Pattinson's character of the reverend. The serial killer couple were interesting too. In general the performances in this are solid. The moments of violence in this movie were pretty great and brutal. Umm the scene when Spider-man attacks those kids who were picking on his sister is just amazing.
My issue with this movie has a lot to do with the story structure. The movie takes place over 20ish years in 2 main locations that are seemingly hundreds of miles apart and there are a lot of characters who we spend time getting to know that either disappear after the first 40 minutes or who go away for long periods of the movie. The whole thing with Bodecker (Sebastian Stan) feels so disconnected from the main story and I feel like this movie would be almost no different if he was cut out. Also the whole beginning of this movie should've been either shortened or like cut up and parceled throughout the movie as flashbacks. Something else. Because as is, it feels like 2 totally different stories. Also... I think this movie would be a lot cooler if all of these dark characters were in the same area and had some interactions of some kind leading up to the big violent climax. I also wish that it focused more on Arvin's character as a young adult instead of seeing him as a kid and then jumping ahead without a lot of character development moments.
I don't know though. I did enjoy this quite a bit. I think it just bugs me because I feel like this could've been a 5 star movie had there been a few changes to the structure of the story. Like having Lenora discover the story of her parents would've been more interesting than having the audience see it 20 minutes before we even meet Lenora as a character. Seeing Lenora's dad as Carl's first victim could've been great if we could see Lenora or even Arvin react to finding that out. Don't get me wrong, this is still pretty good and I would maybe watch it again one day.