Everyone is a sinner in ‘The Devil All the Time’

Netflix’s new exclusive film is a sinister take on the small town

Image by: Shelby Talbot
The film boasts an impressive cast.

In The Devil All the Time, nobody is without sin—and some characters have sinned a lot more than they let on. 

Netflix’s new exclusive film follows Arvin, played by Tom Holland, a young man who’s grappling with tragic circumstances and his own inner demons.

The violent tone for the film is established at its outset: Arvin’s father, a World War II veteran played by Bill Skarsgard, is plagued by horrific sights from his time overseas. When he returns home, he settles in Knockemstiff, Ohio with his new wife and young son Arvin. 

As Arvin grows older, Willard teaches his son, who’s being bullied at school, that the best way to get back at people who do him wrong is to use physical violence. When Arvin’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, she soon dies from the disease. Willard takes his own life, leaving an orphaned Arvin to be sent away to Coal Creek, West Virginia, and raised by his grandmother and uncle alongside Lenore, another orphan. 

The film fast-forwards to Arvin’s teenage years where he continues to uphold his father’s philosophy about getting back at people who do him wrong. While this endeavour initially seems as simple as defending his adoptive sister from bullies at school, Arvin’s actions soon become motivated by even more sinister threats when a new preacher, played by Robert Pattinson, arrives in town.

The Devil All the Time runs a total of two hours and 18 minutes and doesn’t fail to pack that run time with action. Along with Arvin’s fascination with revenge, there’s a subplot that follows two serial killers, married couple Carl and Sandy Henderson, played by Jason Clarke and Riley Keogh. Robert Pattinson’s character, Reverend Preston Teagardin, is a villainous preacher who uses his position as a way to exploit young girls to act in his favour.  

Arvin emerges as the true anti-hero of the film, and his seemingly omniscient presence throughout Coal Creek allows him to take justice into his own hands and punish the evil individuals around him.

The film overall is entertaining—it features horrific violence, exposes twists and secrets, and showcases several British actors’ takes on an old-timey Southern accent. 

However, despite the film’s substantial run-time, the story manages to fall flat at its climax.  

A flurry of violence at the end of the film brings a rather abrupt end to several storylines that had been cultivated throughout its run time. The deaths, while impactful, appear less in line with the story’s vengeful undertones and more as random acts of violence that allow guilty parties to escape unpunished for their crimes and innocent to the public eye. 

With much of the knowledge of the abhorrent actions in the film dying with the characters that committed them, the film ends on a bittersweet note—viewers can’t help but be dissatisfied with many shocking secrets that are taken to the grave.


Film Review, Netflix

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