|The Devil All the Time|
Official release poster
|Directed by||Antonio Campos|
|Based on||The Devil All the Time|
by Donald Ray Pollock
|Narrated by||Donald Ray Pollock|
|Edited by||Sofía Subercaseaux|
The Devil All the Time is a 2020 American psychological thriller film directed by Antonio Campos, from a screenplay co-written with his brother Paulo Campos, based on the novel of the same name by Donald Ray Pollock, who also serves as the film's narrator. The cast includes Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan, Haley Bennett, Eliza Scanlen, with Mia Wasikowska and Robert Pattinson, whose characters' stories weave together.
The Devil All the Time was released in select theaters on September 11, 2020, and digitally on Netflix on September 16, 2020. It received mixed reviews from critics.
During World War II, while in the Solomon Islands, Marine Willard Russell finds Gunnery Sergeant Miller-Jones skinned and left to die on a cross by the Japanese. He shoots Miller to end his misery. This religious tableau will haunt Willard for the rest of his life.
After the war, on his way home to Coal Creek, West Virginia, Willard passes through Meade, Ohio, where he meets Charlotte, a waitress at a diner. Willard and Charlotte marry and move to Knockemstiff, Ohio, where they have a child named Arvin.
In 1950, Helen Hatton marries the disturbingly charismatic evangelical preacher Roy Laferty. When he preaches, he pours spiders over his head to demonstrate his faith in God. They have a child named Lenora. Roy is bitten by a spider on his face and has a severe allergic reaction that affects his grip on reality. Roy believes that he can resurrect the dead. He takes Helen out in the woods, kills her, then later tries to resurrect her, but fails. After realizing his actions, he flees to return to his daughter Lenora.
Roy hitchhikes and gets a ride with a pair of married serial killers, Carl Henderson, and his wife, Sandy. Their ritual involves picking up male hitchhikers, encouraging them to have sex with Sandy while Carl takes photographs, and then murdering them. Carl murders Roy by shooting him in the head, after he refuses to have sex with Sandy.
In 1957, Charlotte has cancer. Willard believes that if he prays fervently enough he can influence God to remove cancer from his wife's body. He obsessively and strenuously prays to God kneeling before a rustic cross he had erected in the woods behind his house. Despite crucifying Arvin's dog as a sacrifice to spare his wife, Charlotte dies. Willard commits suicide in grief. Now an orphan, Arvin goes to live with Emma, his grandmother. At his new home, Arvin meets his adopted "step-sister", Lenora Russell.
In 1965, Arvin is given his father's Luger pistol. The church has a new preacher, Reverend Preston Teagarden. Some bullies have been harassing Lenora, and Arvin confronts and severely beats them. Preston takes advantage of Lenora's innocence using religion beliefs and then tricks her into having sex with him which results in her becoming pregnant. She tells Preston, but he denies her. Not wanting to bring shame to the family, she is about to commit suicide by hanging before realizing she and her baby would be fine. However, she slips, accidentally hanging herself. Arvin is told that she was pregnant and suspects that Preston was the father. He follows Preston and sees him seduce and have sex with another girl. At the church, Arvin confronts Preston and kills him with the Luger. He then flees north.
Arvin hitchhikes and is picked up by Carl and Sandy. When Carl tries to make a move on Arvin, Arvin sees Carl's pistol and kills Carl. Sandy and Arvin then shoot each other at the same time, but Carl had earlier loaded Sandy's gun with blanks, feeling he couldn't trust her. Sandy dies. In the car's glove box, Arvin finds a fetish collection consisting of a picture of Sandy holding Roy's dead body and rolls of film. Sandy's brother, Sheriff Lee Bodecker, learns about Sandy's murder, and to protect himself and his coming reelection, goes to Carl and Sandy's apartment, finds and burns Carl's fetish photo collection that memorializes the many years of Carl and Sandy's serial murders.
Arvin goes to Meade to visit his childhood home. Sheriff Lee Bodecker learns that Arvin murdered Preston. Searching for Arvin, he goes to Knockemstiff. They confront each other in the woods where Willard's rustic cross resides, Lee with a shotgun and Arvin with the Luger. Shots are exchanged, Arvin mortally wounds Lee. Before Lee dies, Arvin confronts Lee with the picture of Sandy with Roy's dead body. Arvin leaves the photo and rolls of film on Lee so evidence of Carl and Sandy's serial killing spree can be revealed. Before fleeing from the scene, Arvin buries the Luger with his dog's remains.
Arvin hitchhikes and is picked up by a hippie driving a VW van. As he is riding in a car with a stranger, he tries very hard not to fall asleep. He daydreams and contemplates his future as possibly a husband or as a soldier in the Vietnam War.
The film was announced in September 2018, with Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Chris Evans and Mia Wasikowska in talks to star. Antonio Campos was set to write and direct the film, with Jake Gyllenhaal serving as producer. In January 2019, Bill Skarsgård and Eliza Scanlen joined the cast, and Netflix was set to distribute the film. Sebastian Stan was cast to replace Evans, after scheduling conflicts caused him to drop out and personally recommended Stan for the role. Additionally, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough and Haley Bennett were announced as part of the cast, and in March 2019, Harry Melling also joined. Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans composed the film's score.
Principal photography began on February 19, 2019, in Alabama, with filming locations including Blount County, Anniston, Deatsville, Pell City, Birmingham, and Montevallo. Filming completed on April 15, 2019.
The film was the most-watched on Netflix over its first two days, and third overall in its first five days.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 65% based on 174 reviews, with an average rating of 6.28/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "The Devil All the Time's descent into darkness can be harrowing to the point of punishment, but it's offset by strong work from a stellar cast." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 55 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."
The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips wrote, "It's easy on the eyes... worth seeing for an intriguingly cast ensemble, authenticating the milieu as much as possible. Holland's terrific, taking in each new setback in [his character's] life without revealing the full extent of the damage."
Ryan Lattanzio of IndieWire gave the film a "C–" and called it "colossal misfire, a sweaty mess from start to finish," although he praised Holland and Pattinson's performances. Owen Gleiberman of Variety said that "it's hard to imagine how a movie with this much sordid crime and violence could be this rote" and wrote "The Devil All the Time shows us a lot of bad behavior, but the movie isn't really interested in what makes the sinners tick. And without that lurid curiosity, it's just a series of Sunday School lessons: a noir that wants to scrub away the darkness."
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