What happens when you pack in a crew of well-known celebrities who have been a part of the Marvel franchise, IT, a slew of independent films, Harry Potter, and other well-known properties? Well, I suppose you get something like The Devil All the Time, a tale of extreme faith, violence, and murder in the backwoods of the South.
The Devil All the Time begins with Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgård), just returned from war, as he falls in love with a waitress, Charlotte (Haley Bennett), on his way home. After seeking her attention and the two eventually marrying, they raise a son, Arvin (Michael Banks Repeta), and remain committed to their faith. Over time, however, it becomes clear that this expression of faith is far from innocent and tragedy inevitably arrives.
Years later, Arvin has grown up (now portrayed by Tom Holland) and he is discovering his own faith, or lack thereof, and trying to control the frustrations and demons of his past. These all let loose after some encounters with Preston Teagarden (Robert Pattinson), the new preacher in town. In addition to this preacher, surrounding Arvin and his family are a cast of other characters with their own lives, sins, and evils, which plague the community they all call home.
What is noticeable right away is the narration of this story as events unfold and characters develop. At first, it seems like a way to establish the location and circumstances, but this narration continues throughout most of the film like a visitor who has overextended their welcome. That welcome, too, is extended by the movie’s runtime, which feels a little too long and likely could have been trimmed down by about twenty minutes – allowing for a more concise production.
However, what really makes this film worth watching are the performances. With this all-star cast – Holland, Skarsgård, Pattinson, as well as Sebastian Stan – everybody is acting their hearts out and the result is a chillingly cold and brutal world where decisions are a matter of life and death. Holland and Pattinson, especially, play opposite each other for a short time and this movie would have benefited had this opposition been explored further and we had been able to spend more time with them as contrasting figures.
The Devil All the Time is not for the faint of heart as it pulls no punches in showing intense scenes of violence. At certain points, it can feel like too much, and this is a perfectly understandable conclusion to come to.
If you decide to watch this film, buckle in for an intense and sometimes sickening story. There are points where it drags on and you just want it to move on or, worse, to end. Feel free to stay for the performances, which are great, but you have been warned.