I feel I should start this review by saying I read Donald Ray Pollock’s novel “The Devil All the Time” before I watched Antonio Campos’ film adaptation, so I couldn’t help but compare the two as I watched the movie.
Sadly, Campos’ film fell short in comparison to Pollock’s fantastically complex and gripping novel. I really recommend everyone read it regardless of whether you watch this movie or not. It is compellingly disturbing and an exceedingly immersive reading experience.
Campos’ film, on the other hand, feels soulless and simple. I really hate to say bad things about someone’s film because I think art is subjective, and every piece of art has value. However, when comparing this film to the book, it just doesn’t stand up.
That being said, the one thing this film got absolutely right was the casting. This film has a ridiculously stellar cast, and every character looks exactly how I pictured them in the novel. The performances in this movie are incredible, and it kills me that the actors’ talents were wasted on such a hollow film adaptation.
I think that is what annoys me most about this movie – what could have been.
I know it may seem like I’m saying a lot of negative things about this film, but it’s because I’m very passionate about the story. The characters in the novel are dark and complicated, and their lives are seamlessly interwoven with one another. That was one of my favorite parts about the story.
This movie – and the novel – follows young Arvin Russel, played by “Spider-Man: Homecoming” actor Tom Holland, as he navigates a corrupt rural town in Ohio with numerous shady characters. The plot is incredibly hard to summarize because there are a lot of subplots occurring at the same time, but that is the basic gist.
For me, the highlight of this film was the performances by Harry Melling, Bill Skarsgård and Robert Pattinson. As I mentioned previously, the entire cast is phenomenal, but those three actors stood out the most.
Melling plays misguided preacher Roy Lafferty, and while his role in the film is small, his impact is greatly felt. I would argue he is one of the most memorable characters in the movie and has what I consider to be the most memorable scene.
Skarsgård plays the father of Arvin’s character, Willard Russell, and he also manages to strike an emotional chord despite his brief screen time. Skarsgård is an actor who never disappoints, and I’m happy to see him landing more mainstream movie roles.
Pattinson is, in my opinion, the best part of the film. He plays Reverend Preston Teagardin, who is the main villain of the movie. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: Pattinson is such an underrated dramatic actor. He gets a lot of flak for starring in the “Twilight” movies, but he’s actually very talented. His performance here is possibly my favorite he’s ever done. Teagardin is despicable, creepy and gross, and Pattinson pulls that off perfectly.
All in all, I suppose I recommend this film with caution. Don’t go into it expecting too much, and you’ll probably enjoy it. The movie is a bit lackluster and very disappointing in comparison to the novel, but the performances and story make it watchable.
”The Devil All The Time” can be viewed on Netflix.
Allison Chudina is a junior journalism major and English minor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. When she is not writing for Accent, she enjoys watching movies, reading books, and playing with her two cats.