SonnyBubba’s review published on Letterboxd:
The devil all the time follows multiple characters in a town called Knockemstiff Ohio. Each of these characters has distinct flaws and does some truly unforgivable things. From an outsider perspective it is hard to understand what a pedophile preacher, a serial killer couple, a man haunted by his past, a selfish crooked sheriff, and a boy that takes the law into his own hands have to do with each other. That is what I was wondering going into the film. I had seen the trailer but I had no knowledge of the plot further than that. But after watching the film I can say confidently that this is a fantastic film that is bound to be studied for years to come. So let me explain my interpretation. The rest of this review will contain major spoilers. The film is available for free of Netflix for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.
Every character in this film uses God to excuse their actions. They all misinterpret the Bible and use their flawed logic to justify terrible things. Bill Skarsgård plays a veteran that falls and love and moves to a small town. He has a tortured past that causes him to despise God. In the war he witnessed a marine that was crucified and left to die. He hates God for doing such a horrible thing to a good man. He is shown to be violent and vindictive. When him and his son are laughed at while praying he ignores them. But later takes his son to their home to beat them senseless. He uses violence to dish out justice as he sees fit. When his wife gets cancer he takes his son down to the woods to pray. He is convinced that God will do what he wants if they ask the right way. For anyone who has ever read the Bible or gone to Sunday school this is obviously not what Christians believe.
I grew up Christian in a Christian house and in a Christian school. I fell off of my faith as I grew older but I still understand the concepts of the Bible. Christians believe that everything that God does has a purpose. That even the most painful tragedy has a greater purpose. God doesn’t just give you things if you ask but rather he gives you things to finish his plan for the world. Bill Skarsgård’s character obviously doesn’t understand this concept. He even goes as far as to kill his sons dog as a sacrifice to prove his faith. So when his wife still dies of cancer he puts her body onto the cross and kills himself. Denouncing his faith in God.
Jason Clarke and Riley Keough play a serial killer couple that takes hitchhikers and take photos of them having sex with Riley Keough’s character then killing them. The narrator says in the film that Jason Clarke’s character can only feel the presence of God when he is near death. The irony is that the only way he feels close to God is to defy his teachings.
Robert Pattinson plays a preacher that uses his vast knowledge of the Bible and Gods word to lure in weak teenage girls so he can take advantage of them. The narrator says that his mother decided that he would be a preacher from a young age. He got picked on in school but he had more knowledge of God than anyone else. He uses the Bible to show off his knowledge and to pump his own ego. He is addicted to the power of being the mostly godly man in the room. The ironic part is that although he can recite the Bible with near perfect accuracy he doesn’t put any of it into practice. He just likes to be the power of knowing the most. This is also shown in how he takes advantage of emotionally distraught teens. He has complete control over them and that’s what he likes about it.
And last but not least is the main character. The protagonist of the story. To my surprise he is not anywhere close to perfect. From the very start of the story he talks about how much he hates his dad for the things he did. He lost faith in god because of his fathers twisted beliefs. Again this character is very ironic because is displays pretty much all of the attributes of his father. It even goes as far as in the final shot the narrator says that he thinks about going into war and starting a family just like his dad. He despises his dad but he is the exact same. A shaky relationship with God, violent tendencies, and the desire to take the law into his own hands.
The devil all the time displays characters that all believe in a deist God. A god that is distant and that rarely interferes with the human world. He is someone that will give us what we want if we just ask him right. None of these people understand anything about God but still preach their beliefs as if they do. This film shows the hypocrisy of humans like I’ve never seen before. If you couldn’t tell this film really got to me. It’s filled with dramatic irony and I loved watched these flawed characters attempt to stumble around a world that doesn’t care about them. It’s dark and depressing but oddly funny. I’m so glad that this was great. I know a lot of people don’t really like it that much but I personally loved it. Maybe it’s because I haven’t read the book and it just showed these themes better but idk. The performances are so good and the ironic twists and turns of the screenplay are so interesting. I was so invested that the narrator didn’t even piss me off like usual.