Netflix’s The Devil All the Time is a gothic, mid-western drama that boasts possibly the biggest cast ensemble so far this year, but frustratingly doesn’t know what to do with it.
An over-arching story that spans three decades during post war America. Corruption within the local police force, sinful shortcomings upon the town’s church, and a string of moral coincidences which coincide with the constant frivolous murder, all play crucial parts in Antonio Campos’ mid-American noir thriller. And let it be known that it is one to likely divide its viewers.
Its weighty script, highly gratuitous violence and back and forth approach to its storytelling can all be major setbacks in the progression of the movies excitement. Its attempts at offering something shocking and gruesome, far outweighs a plot that becomes more irritating than intoxicating.
The star studded cast, which consists of Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke and Bill Skarsgard (amongst others), all share the limelight. Most of which don’t show up until much later into the movie, or are suprisingly cut off early on though. This doesn’t allow much room to really feel anything towards any of the characters or their developments.
The nicest of touches applied, is the inclusion of the narrator. Voiced by Donald Ray Pollock, the author of the novel in which this is an adaptation of. Donald brings his writing to life, but more importantly helps drive the plot forward as well.
The Devil All the Time is a real mixed bag. It’s often gritty just for the sake of it, and rarely earns the right to be so. Shock value over purposeful substance. Frustratingly there’s an awful lot going on, but at the same time, it feels like nothing of value is happening. Almost two and a half hours of slow built, separate stories, that are linked sometimes in the clumsiest ways.
Campos’ approach to the movie is very odd. Whilst he has the acting talent to back the project, they’re not given the right amount of time to really shine in their roles. Holland and Pattinson (in particular) with thick, American accents was the clear highlight, and they are two of the characters which are perhaps the most flushed out. But beyond that, there’s not a great deal to work with.
The Devil All the Time may shock and surprise you, but it’ll likely leave you asking what was the point of it all. Whilst a runtime of under two and a half hours feels accustomed in this day and age, it feels every minute of it and more. You’ll be begging for the final punch to feel worth your time, and for me that was never the case.