Netflix’s latest, “Devil All the Time,” tells the story of Arvin (Tom Holland) and the legacy left by his late father Bill Skarsgard and the sinister characters, played by Robert Pattinson, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough, and Sebastian Stan, who all converge in a small Ohio town after World War II. That synopsis only skims the surface of the twisted avenues this story takes, which is something that certainly won’t be for everyone. The thing about a movie like this is that its nature of violence is the type of thing that you won’t expect. There’s a nastiness to some of the events that reminded me of David Fincher’s classic “Seven” meets the cult classic “Place Beyond The Pines” from 2013.
That combination is something that makes for a film that’s incredibly well made, just not something I want to revisit anytime soon. The thing that makes “Devil All the Time” work as well as it does is the fine group of talent in front of the camera. Being his first big dramatic break from the MCU, Holland sells the savagery and brokenness of someone who lost everything before he even realized it. If you were on the fence about his leading man material outside of Spider-Man, trust me when I say that you will not be disappointed here. Plus, if you had any doubts about the range of Robert Pattinson as an actor, just wait until you see him here. His villainous performance is so evil, twisted and downright deranged that it could be the stuff of a legend. Everyone else in the film is fine, but these two actors are who really stand out.
Having a great cast sell this grim tale does the very best it can to make this a palatable story. I just have to reaffirm the fact of just how dark this story starts for each of these characters. No one gets a happy ending in this tale, everyone’s life is dark and sinful and usually met with a grisly end. With several back allies of violence the film goes down, it also deals with heavy religious themes. Some of the films' nastier sequences (including one with a dog) deal with such a religious subtext that can be a massive turn off for some. Mix in the violence with essentially no feeling of levity and you get something that’s just hard to get through. Having a film that’s so steeped in the tone is something that is tough to accomplish. Even with actors that are majorly committed to these roles, some of that violence is not meant to entertain. Though there is absolutely no denying that this is a well-made film, it's just hard to decipher why boundaries are pushed as hard as they are.
A movie like this going to Netflix is arguably the perfect place for it due to how they let filmmakers make the movie they want. In the case of “Devil All the Time," they let director Antonio Campos make the adaptation that he wants. While not having read the book by Donald Ray Pollock (who also serves as the narrator here), it’s still easy to tell the point that wants to be made. This is a story of people who were stuck in an unpredictably gruesome time with no clear answers. These actions force them to make decisions that change and form the lives of everyone around them. In the crazy world that we live in now, a movie as heavy as this may not be something audiences are ready to take in right now. Though if you want something that will make you feel a lot of things, I recommend you check this one out.