‘The Devil All the Time’ a brooding story of a father, a son and some holy hypocrites

The Netflix film brings the pieces of its complicated jigsaw puzzle together into an admirable conclusion.

SHARE ‘The Devil All the Time’ a brooding story of a father, a son and some holy hypocrites

The misdeeds of others take Arvin (Tom Holland) off his righteous path in “The Devil All the Time.”


It’s a good thing we have a gravel-voiced narrator guiding us through the byzantine, time-hopping and sometimes interconnecting storylines in the mid-20th century noir mood piece “The Devil All the Time,” because there are times when things get so complicated and so messy, we could use a little help.

At first, the jigsaw puzzle seems needlessly difficult to solve, but once all the pieces are in place and we see the big picture, we’re left with admiration for director/co-writer Antonio Campos’ ability to weave a memorably brooding film from Donald Ray Pollock’s novel of the same name. (In a neat touch, Pollock literally voices the film as the aforementioned narrator.)

‘The Devil All the Time’


Netflix presents a film directed by Antonio Campos and written by Antonio Campos and Paulo Campos, based on the novel by Donald Ray Pollock. Rated R (for violence, bloody/disturbing images, sexual content, graphic nudity, and language throughout). Running time: 138 minutes. Now showing at Landmark Century Centre; premieres Wednesday on Netflix.

Bill Skarsgard plays Willard Russell, a World War II veteran who a decade later is still haunted by the image of a comrade strung up on a crucifix and left to die a slow and excruciating death. Skarsgard is hauntingly good as Willard faces his demons and tries to be a good husband and father but is fighting a losing battle.

Meanwhile, Carl Henderson (Jason Clarke) and his wife Sandy (Riley Keough) travel country back roads, picking up male hitchhikers and inviting them to pose for provocative photos with Sandy. Carl takes graphic photos of Sandy with the latest victim, who indeed becomes a victim — because the Hendersons are serial killers.

As the story moves to the mid-1960s, Tom Holland, in James Dean mode and pulling it off quite well, becomes the centerpiece of the story as Arvin Russell, the now-grown son of his late father Willard. Tom is fiercely protective of his stepsister Lenora (Eliza Scanlen), a fellow orphan who gives her trust to the town’s slick new preacher, Preston Teagardin (Robert Pattinson), who drives a Cadillac and has the starter jewelry kit of transitioning-to-Vegas Elvis. (Preston Teagardin is a predator; another fire-and-brimstone preacher in the story murders his wife. “The Devil All the Time” has a LOT to say about religious hypocrisy.)

Arvin keeps trying to walk the righteous path, but he runs into some very bad people along his journey — and violent clashes cannot be avoided.


Sebastian Stan steals scenes as a corrupt sheriff


And in a film brimming with excellent acting, Sebastian Stan is a standout as Lee Bodecker, a murderously corrupt sheriff with longstanding ties to Arvin and serial killer Sandy, among others. Bodecker is one of those villains so vile you’re rooting for him to get his comeuppance, but you’ll hate to see him go.

With Alabama filling in for postwar rural West Virginia and Southern Ohio, director Campos and cinematographer Lol Crawley do a superb job of creating an ominous atmosphere, as if despair and tragedy are lurking around every small-town street corner, down every stretch of country road. For all its indictments of religion, this film is not anti-faith; it’s a cautionary tragedy about putting your faith in the wrong men who cloak themselves in God when in fact the devil is inside them, all the damned time.

CST form logo
The top entertainment stories, features and must-read reviews sent to you weekly.

By subscribing, you agree with Revue’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

The Latest
Trubisky, signed to a two-year deal in March and selected as a co-captain on the eve of the season, will serve as Pickett’s backup. Coach Mike Tomlin described Trubisky as “disappointed” in the demotion.
Fifteen oak, bald cypress and catalpa trees will create a wall to protect from noise and air pollution, as well as offer green views that promote healing.
Both teams pursued highly regarded Ryan Poles in their search for a new general manager. The Bears hired him and the Vikings hired analytics guru Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Sunday’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium will be the first head-to-head test of how they’re doing.
Fuller’s plays were filled with complex characters and an undercutting of conventions. “The best way to dispel stereotypes and massive lies is telling something as close to the truth as you can,” Fuller once told Newsday.
Nearshore salmon and trout on southern Lake Michigan top the sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.