Alice Oscura – Featured Writer
Netflix’s newly released psychological thriller The Devil All the Time is literally a nonstop ride of depravity and ungodly behavior. This one is not for the faint of heart, and you’ll definitely want to make sure that there are no minors in the room before viewing this one.
The film is directed by Antonio Campos and co-written with his brother Paulo Campos. The superstar cast alone sparks the interest with the likes of Tom Holland (MCU Spiderman), Bill Skarsgård (Hemlock Grove, Atomic Blonde), Sebastian Stan (MCU’s Winter Soldier), and Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse, upcoming The Batman). The film is the screen adaptation of Dale Ray Pollock’s eponymous novel and it just so happens that Pollock also serves as our narrator – a neat touch. This southern Gothic tale covers the stories of multiple characters whose fates converge at various junctures to create a pile up of bodies between West Virginia and Ohio.
The film covers two different timelines, the first being post-WWII America which deals with the return of mentally-scarred soldiers who have seen the horrors of war and have to settle into domestic/civilian life. One such soldier is Willard Russell (Skarsgård) who turns his inner turmoil and darkness into religious fanaticism.
The thing about Bill is that his eyes are very expressive. We’ve seen him use this skill in It Chapters 1 & 2. Russell is conflicted in his beliefs and it manifests into something borderline sinister and obsessive. Even though he does not have much screen time, his character is extremely impactful and fills you with immense sympathy for how broken he becomes. And you begin to wonder about the impact that certain events would end up having on his son, Arvin.
An adult Arvin is played by our resident Spiderman Tom Holland, who tries out his acting chops with a meatier role of a young man who has seen way too much of the darker side of what life has to offer. He came away with one lesson from his father and that is: “They’s a lot of no-good sonofabitches out there.” It is a motto that he has lived by, never forgetting his childhood traumas and doing his damnedest to protect his adoptive family, even if it ends up being to his detriment. He grows up conflicted like his father about religious beliefs but still goes to church every Sunday.
This timeline throws us in the midst of the Vietnam war era when a lot of young men question the likelihood of signing up to go to war after school or staying behind to pursue a career. That goes on in the background of the stage being set for a serial killer husband and wife team that prey on unsuspecting hitchhikers, a promiscuous preacher that takes advantage of the young teenage girls in his congregation, and a crooked lawman with sinister ties to a serial killer.
It’s funny how religious belief and evil intertwine during the film and pave the way for some pretty heinous crimes taking place that span at least two generations. The strong performances throughout the film contributes to the slow and steady pace of character development. Holland gives his best and most mature performance to date in my opinion, shedding his quirky Peter Parker persona. Pattinson’s perfect caricature of Reverend Teagardin, the highly over-sexed man of the cloth with short term memory loss (you’ll see what I mean, raises the ick factor and paves the way for some gratuitous violence.
The film is like a giant jigsaw puzzle where the pieces at first don’t seem to fit together, but when the convergence happens it all starts to make sense. It’s a precautionary tale about putting your faith in men that disguise the devil inside themselves by using God and religion as a lure to the unsuspecting folks. The folks that are just looking for and needing some sort of anchor to hold unto during turbulent times, and in this case during two very impactful wars.
For me this film has been one of the most intriguing thrillers of the year, from the location, atmosphere, and inherently dark fleshed-out characters that’s will hook you from the beginning to the fade to black.
Alice’s Score: 7.5 out of 10
Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump.
I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. You can find me as Dark Alice Reviews on Facebook, my Instagram is alice_oscura and my Twitter handle is @lise_veliz2. For more on me you can click here.