“Some people are just born to be buried.”
That quote is one of the best lines of dialogue from a movie I’ve heard in long, long time. And thankfully, it is coming from one of 2020 very best films for me, #4 under Tenet, Palm Springs, and Onward. THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME is a tour de force of a motion picture. It’s a very dark and depressing film with interconnected characters and stories that will remind you of other great ones that are similar (in a way) such as A Place Beyond The Pines, Sleepers, and Pulp Fiction. It’s a slow burn disturbing thriller that doesn’t really feel like a slow burn, even at 2 hours and 18 minutes long. The film is also filled with fantastic performances from an A list cast including: Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan, Eliza Scanlan, Riley Keough, Haley Bennett, Bill Skarsgard, Mia Wasikowska, and Jason Clarke. The standouts from this list are easily Holland and Pattinson, with the latter maybe just possibly getting his first Oscar nomination for his creepy as fuck demented preacher role (Although Holland is great too, and him and Pattinson share the best scene in the film together). The only complaint I can think of with this movie is that one of the characters escapes death multiple times rather fluidly in a matter of minutes. But I was holding my breath in anticipation, dread, and tension with those minutes, so why am I really complaining? Could you say that The Devil All The Time might be my favorite Netflix original film of ALL time? Right now, abso-fucking-lutely. Everything about it is great: the camera work, the tone, the tension, the dialogue, the acting, the direction, the acting, the interconnected stories that keep you engaged, the acting, the tension, the interconnected stories, the tone, the dialogue, and the acting. I want to watch it again immediately to study it more. I literally can’t believe how good it was.
You know how sometimes films have narration from a famous actor or actress and that person is usually a character in said movie? Not here. This movie has the balls to cast the author himself (I forgot to mention this is based off a novel I haven’t read but now want to) to narrate parts of this film, just a bystander telling the audience of the inner thoughts of some of the characters during certain scenes, and it completely works. It was a wonderful breath of fresh air not to just hear Tom Holland or someone else from the cast narrate the entire thing. Oh shit…right…what’s it about you might be asking? Per IMDB: “Sinister characters converge around a young man devoted to protecting those he loves in a postwar backwoods town teeming with corruption and brutality.” That is literally the perfect summary without giving anything away. And when I say the film takes its beautiful time, it really does, as Tom Holland, who is billed first and the lead in this movie, doesn’t show up for possibly about 45-50 minutes in. It gives you ample detail of the history of his character and other characters around him that he may or may not cross paths with later. The film also manages to still be engaging even though some would argue that Holland is the only likable character in this movie (I disagree, Mia Wasikowska and Eliza Scanlan were likable to me). The movie balances the unlikable characters’ darkness and despair with incredible acting from all those that don’t make their roles at all sympathetic. Especially Pattinson. If you are still on the hate train because of the Twilight movies, this movie WILL change your mind on him if you haven’t seen Tenet or Good Time. I guarantee you that. And if not, you need to stop watching movies altogether.
This film has multiple wonderful set ups that in turn are earned with multiple incredible pay offs. The movie plots the characters actions so closely that when they do happen to meet up at one time or another, it seems more like fate than it does just a coincidence. I am not familiar at all with writer/director Antonio Campos’ work, but needless to say, I’ll be on the lookout for future projects from him whenever they do happen to cross my path. Knowing the average movie goer, 75% chance that it is you, you have probably looked at my review and then looked at Rotten Tomatoes to see what other critics have thought. You might see it’s 66% right now. I beg you to look at the audience score instead, which is 93% as of this writing. If you took your time to read some of the critic reviews, some of them have the fucking gall to complain that there is no humor in the movie. GOOD GOD PEOPLE, NOT EVERY DARK AND DEPRESSING FILM IS GOING TO HAVE HUMOR. In fact, it would be completely out of place in a tale like this one. These are the same critics that complained there was no humor in Tenet, even though there was, so they are either blind and deaf, or they are literally are that stupid. I cannot recommend The Devil All The Time any more than I already have to you. It is entirely engaging the entire time, my attention was dead set on it when I was watching and it never wavered, I soaked up all of its greatness and then some. Other than that quote at the top of this review, I’m sure on multiple viewings that I’ll catch and memorize a few more. With people being lazy and privileged and cowardly at home and not going to theaters, spending all the time in the world with this devil of a direct to streaming film is the only one I’d recommend (and Palm Springs) to those afraid to step outside their homes.