There are a whole bunch of sinners in Knockemstiff, Ohio. The name itself doesn’t sound inviting. But should you find yourself walking down those dusty roads bordered with pine trees, be sure to look over your shoulder. And don’t go hitchhiking. Seriously.
As the stories of these devious sinners intertwine, we find Arvin (Tom Holland) at the centre of them all, fighting to protect his loved ones and to expose the corrupt town full of corruption and brutality.
Adapted from novel by Donald Ray Pollock, it’s clear that The Devil All The Time tries it’s best to stay true to the source material. It’s use of a narrator, which handily is the author of the book, feels like a clear use of exposition to connect the dots and get inside the minds of those we’re watching. Much like you would have if you were to read it.
A slow burner, The Devil All The Time almost feels like you’re watching each chapter at a time. It’s stark in tone, matched by a haunting score and tantalising cinematography that, albeit beautiful in their own right, might not be for everyone. A harrowing depiction of the darkness in others, each character has their faults, even our Arvin. If you’re looking for some light relief and escapism in these difficult times in our world, The Devil All the Time might not be it.
With a film focusing on many characters, there truly is a terrific cast list. Whether it’s the scarred war veteran (Bill Skarsgard), the creepy photographer (Jason Clarke) or the corrupt sheriff (Sebastian Stan), they all have their moments to shine. Two standouts, however, are Robert Pattinson’s maniacal reverend and Harry Melling, who steals the show, as a devout, and quite frankly, bonkers preacher.
While each character needs their moment, it does lend itself to a story that ultimately drifts with seemingly little purpose. You can’t help by find other character’s stories more inviting and interesting. That’s just the way it goes sometimes with these ensemble films and The Devil All The Time is no exception.
Mesmerising and shocking at times, The Devil All The Time twists and turns to keep you interested but, ultimately, it might not quite be the sum of all it’s parts. While Tom Holland proves that he’s much more than just a cheeky Spiderman, The Devil All The Time might have benefited from being a TV Mini Series, as opposed to a feature length film. A haunting thriller that can be entertaining but not one that you might be keen to revisit time and time again.
By Jordan Barrett
Available to stream on Netflix