Sunday, October 1, 2023

Spoiler review: “The Devil All the Time” deserves a close watch


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Photo Courtesy of Hollywood Insider

Story by Peyton Tranas/Contributing Writer

Director Antonio Campos (“Christine”) unravels a story of heartache, loss, “delusions” and revenge in “The Devil All the Time.” Based on the 2011 novel written by Donald Ray Pollock, who also stars as the film’s narrator, the film version features a star-studded lineup of actors, including Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Eliza Scanlen and Bill Skarsgård.

Switching between small towns in West Virginia and Ohio, the film is set in three different time periods: the 1940s, 50s and 60s. It begins in 1945 with Willard Russell (Skarsgård), a WWII vet who’s just returned home. At the same time that Willard meets waitress Charlotte (Haley Bennett), another side story unravels between Charlotte’s coworker, Sandy (Riley Keough) and fellow customer Carl Henderson (Jason Clarke). Clarke and Keough’s characters have a love story that turns into a tumultuous serial-killing spree of “model worthy” hitchhikers.

Between storylines of murderous couples, cult-like “devout Christian” ideologies and tragic upbringings, viewers have to pay close attention, or they may get lost in the constant back and forth between time periods.

In 1957, young Arvin (Michael Banks Repeta), the son of Willard and Charlotte, deals with a borderline emotionally abusive father, his mother’s sudden death from cancer, his father brutally sacrificing his dog as a sadistic trade with God and ultimately his father’s suicide.

The 1965 storyline features Arvin (now played by Holland) and fellow orphan Lenora (Scanlen) living in Coal Creek, WV with Russell family members. This time period is where we finally meet Pattinson’s character, Preacher Teagardin. Teagardin can only be described as a holier than thou Southern Preacher, who would not oppose pouring the church a glass of Kool-Aid if needed. Lenora sees Preacher Teagardin as a confidant regarding her faith. However as one can almost expect, Teagardin abuses his position of power to coerce Lenora into doing out-of-character acts.

The second half of the film primarily stars Holland and his father’s gun. He has support from fellow characters such as Preacher Teagardin, the Henderson couple, and Sheriff Lee Bodecker (Sebastian Stan). Like many of the characters in the film, Bodecker intertwines with the other timelines in exciting and unexpected ways.

With nearly half of the cast being from other countries, at times some of the accents become comical, but they’re never distracting. Unless you are from the South, you wouldn’t even know that the accents are slightly inaccurate.

While the film was widely advertised as featuring Pattinson, the clear star is Tom Holland. For Marvel fans that may tune in to see the performances of Holland or Stan, be prepared for a film unlike any Marvel storyline that’s been crafted. For the “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” Holland, this role is quite a departure from his crowd-pleasing performance as Peter Parker. Some, as I did, may go into the movie preparing to pick at Holland’s dramatic performance, but I was ultimately very satisfied with his line-delivery and dramatic chops.

While this is not Netflix’s first time releasing an Oscar worthy film (“Marriage Story”; “The Irishman”), this film definitely has the mark of an Oscar contender. If any Oscar nominations come out of it, I hope to see “Best Actor: Tom Holland” and “Best Supporting Actress: Eliza Scanlen” at the top of the list.

Between an A-list cast and unique period-piece storyline, “The Devil All the Time” is a devilish film that deserves a close watch, as you may get lost in the flurry of storylines if you blink one too many times.


To contact Lifestyles Editor Brandon Black, email

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