The Devil All the Time ★★★★

2020: Ranked

The latest Netflix original feature to arrive on the service and with one of the most impressive ensemble cast lineups in recent memory. The Devil All the Time sees a group of sinister characters converge around a young man (Tom Holland) devoted to protecting those he loves in a postwar backwoods town teeming with corruption and brutality.

Dipped in a lavishly bleak and brutal, depressing noir-tinged atmosphere and featuring a myriad of morally blurred to straight up sickening characters, who are all very well performed by this excellent cast. However a overwritten, overlong plot that tries to balance and focus on too many characters, which unfortunately leads to more of a ‘as wide as an ocean, but deep as a puddle’ result for several of these characters.

The separate stories are presented with a slow burning approach as the connections between the characters unravelling in both the past with flashbacks and the present tense. This approach works well and gives a substantial amount of context and information to the various character situations. Whilst these various characters interactions and encounters fit nicely together, the film does feel convoluted trying to focus on everyone and the pacing certainly suffers, especially towards the end as the film wraps up each plot thread.

The technical aspects are impressive. The set design, costumes, props etc. are all very period accurate and take you through the various time periods accurately. The cinematography is excellent throughout and the use of some savage and gory practical effects and choreography make the bursts of violence and some truly horrific imagery even more effective in their disturbing nature.

The performances are impressive all around. It’s good seeing Tom Holland in a far more darker, mature and complex role, that really makes you realise he is much more than just Spider-Man. Robert Pattinson wise-eyed, scenery chewing seedy preacher steals every scene he is. Bill Skarsgard is a fierce, grief stricken, religion obsessed father. Jason Clarke & Riley Keough make for gleefully nasty killer couple and Sebastian Stan & Harry Melling also deliver in their roles. 

The Devil All the Time is a mammoth feeling dark crime thriller with heavy dramatic and religious weight to it. The performances are great, the characters are varied and there are several savagely satisfying and sickening scenes. The film does suffer from some pacing issues and not all the characters get enough detail or substantial arcs. However it is a brooding, moody slow burn that is certainly worth a watch.

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