Title: The Devil All The Time
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Antonio Campos
Starring: Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Sebastian Stan
Runtime: 2h 18 mins
What It Is: A young man, Arvin (Tom Holland), is devoted to protecting his family from the sinister and corrupt inhabitants of his town. A story about past demons, evil, and blind faith that spans from the early 1940s to the 1960s.
What We Think: I really enjoyed this film. It’s a very well made thriller and it definitely had me on the edge of my seat at times. There are harrowing sequences as well as some frightening and graphic images, and the violence in the film is used very well. In one scene where the father of Tom Holland’s character (played by Bill Skarsgård) gets into a fight with someone, you really feel the impact of each punch and I found myself wincing at some points, the film is very realistic in that regard.
Another fantastic aspect of the film is its performances from the entire cast, specifically Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, and Robert Pattinson. The story takes place in the town of Knockemstiff (a funny name I know, that’s a real place that exists), where everyone has a southern accent. What blew me away is how good these three actors who were not born in the US managed to do those accents, particularly Robert Pattinson who apparently worked on his southern accent without a dialogue coach. When you hear him in the film, it’s like he’s speaking in his native accent if he were from the south.
The same goes for Skarsgård, who is Swedish and besides having a spot-on accent, he’s such a talented actor… it’s good to see him getting into more dramatic roles. Tom Holland gives a great performance as well, and I can see him trying to distance himself from the MCU, to tackle a more serious role so audiences can see him as more than just Spider-Man which is his most popular role. I admire him for doing that and he definitely shows that he brings more to the table instead of “awe-struck teenager”. Another performance I very much enjoyed is that of Sebastian Stan. He plays a sheriff who is a little sloppy and out of shape/sleazy and corrupted. He really transforms, and again it’s great to see him and all the other actors in more dramatic roles. All in all, terrific performances from the whole cast.
In terms of issues, I have a couple. For one the pacing is a little slow at times, I felt like some scenes dragged on for a little too long, but you have to have in mind that this is an adaptation of a novel as well. I would love to read the novel because I felt like the translation from page to screen didn’t all work, and that’s fine. It’s hard to adapt something from a book/novel that has almost 300 pages- there’s a lot that has to be in the film, otherwise, it might not be doing the novel justice and that’s totally understandable. For some it might make the film feel boring at times, it really didn’t bother me all that much.
If I were to describe the film’s story in the best spoiler-free way, I’d say that it’s a cross between Nocturnal Animals and The Place Beyond the Pines, both fantastic films that are worth watching. There’s a story about family and legacy that is similar to Place Beyond The Pines, and the tone of the film is reminiscent of the third act of Nocturnal Animals, very intense, brutal, and gritty. The cinematography has a lovely use of shadows and dark/desaturated colors to really bring out the corruption and darkness surrounding the characters in the film, and the editing is also very good. In terms of the writing and direction, it’s great as well, Antonio Campos wrote and directed the film, this is the first film I’ve seen of his and he did a great job.
Our Grade: A-, The story may drag along for some, but those issues are outweighed completely by the film’s incredible performances and cinematography, as well as it’s the captivating screenplay. A perfect slow burn!