Arts and Entertainment

A Psychological Thriller With Southern Accents: "The Devil All the Time"

"The Devil All the Time” is the newest Netflix release with limited success.

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By Nicholas Evangelinos

“The Devil All the Time” is the product of clouded religion, scintillating mystery, and dripping Southern accents all packed into one movie. Set in the mid-century Midwest (made extremely clear from the hokey southern drawls), we follow the lives of a father (Bill Skarsgård) who passes along his violent tendencies to his son (Tom Holland), and several other “hillbilly” characters in a small town where church and religion are vital to everyday life. The dark and twisted undercurrents of the town, however, make it abundantly clear that these people could not stray any further away from the God they worship with such fervor. With such a heavy subject matter, it’s hard to precisely say whether or not the story was executed well in the end.

One of the biggest draws for this movie is the star-studded cast. Tom Holland, known for his work on Marvel’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017), plays a character who, despite being set in a different time and place, shares similar qualities to his Marvel role but, for the most part, feels like an extremely different and refreshing direction for the actor. Alongside Holland is his Marvel co-star, Sebastian Stan, as well as all-stars Robert Pattinson and Skarsgård. Pattinson does an especially phenomenal job playing a sadistic pastor, showing time and time again that he can crush any role that he takes on. The acting from the entire cast was nearly flawless, but that was not enough to save the movie from confusing and often underdeveloped plot points and characters.

The movie starts off well, with Skarsgård’s character being the focal point of the story. Through the transition from his life to his son’s life, we are introduced to a slew of new characters who lack depth. Most of the characters share the same internal struggle with their religious faith, in which they paint themselves as pious but are revealed to be the exact opposite. This subsequently leads to their demise. Viewers are hit over the head with the central theme of the intricacies of religion but are not given specific backstories for anybody besides the main character. Viewers are left in the dark about most of the characters’ pasts and how exactly they reached a breaking point with their faith.

Besides the plot feeling underdeveloped, there are too many things going on. The movie presents us with a father whose malicious actions will affect his son, a crooked cop, a sister in a psychotic marriage with a serial killer, a pastor who lets his faith overtake his life decisions, and so on. It becomes incredibly difficult to keep up with the different plotlines. Oftentimes, a new character will be introduced without ever being mentioned previously, even if they play a crucial role to the storyline. If viewers tune out for even 20 seconds, they will most definitely come back confused.

With all that being said, this movie was incredibly entertaining to watch. Despite the countless deaths in the movie, every time someone new was killed, it was hard to not experience a fresh wave of shock. Every new plot point is initially confusing but becomes mesmerizing once further watched. The plot ensures every character is somehow connected, even if many never meet face-to-face. The acting and noteworthy actors ended up saving these characters and helping viewers differentiate between them.

“The Devil All the Time” is a very fun watch but in no means a cinematic masterpiece. In fact, in some ways, it felt refreshing and unlike anything that has been made already due to the highly controversial theme and unique setting. The biggest flaw of this story was the rushed storytelling. This story would likely have an easier time effectively twisting and developing as a mini-series, allowing for each character and plot point to be discussed thoroughly. At the very least, Netflix has given us another entertaining movie to watch during quarantine, right? So renew that subscription, and pay close attention. Blink, and you might miss it!