Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME (Netflix)

“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.


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SWALLOW (VOD) (NOT PORN!!!)

No, I haven’t degraded to reviewing porn yet. There are still some things coming out streaming service wise or rental if the movie is (still in theaters) that I will review. SWALLOW is one of these new movies that you can rent (only $6.99, not this $19.99 bullshit, and I had a $3 promotion code to make it $3.99), and one I’ve been hearing a lot about on Twitter. It stars NOT JENNIFER LAWRENCE, Haley Bennett, and it is a psychological horror thriller about a newly pregnant wife that, after getting greatly stressed recently because of the strains of social placement her husband and in laws have put on her recently, develops a strange and dangerous compulsion to consume inedible objects in. What kind of objects might you ask? Well the poster shows her about to eat a fucking thumb tack (it gets worse). So if you can stomach that, which I barely could in the first place, you might find this movie a little interesting. Would I recommend it? I could get past the ick factor even though I dry heaved a couple of times, what I could get past was that the movie was too convoluted for its own good. It need to keep things simple, which it does for about the first 45 minutes, and then it throws on unneeded layers and reasoning to the story when it didn’t need anything else, thus producing a bold yet unearned ending that felt very, very forced.

Haley Bennett’s character is suffering from Pica, a compulsive eating disorder in which people eat nonfood items. And the film establishes very early on that the reason why she is doing this is because she feels the pressure of being in control when her husband and her in-laws hold her in high standard to do the things that they want her to do both mentally and physically. Basically she is being slowly mentally abused in a non threatening kind of way. But it is threatening to her, and when she eats these…sometimes dangerous, inanimate objects, she feels like she has that little moment of steering her life in the direction that she wants to go. It wouldn’t be spoilers really to say that the family discovers what she is doing really early on, so the mental abuse gets worse, and the whole film becomes a very interesting character study. But then, something is thrown into the film, a twist, if you will, that tries to take her whole reasoning of having Pica in another direction. Well, not an entirely whole other direction, it layers it on top of what we’ve already seen and nudges it about 10 degrees to the left. And it didn’t work for me. It’s kind of hard to talk about without revealing spoilers, but I did think the ending was bold, but I knew in my heart and in my mind that it didn’t earn that ending. I can say that the thing that was added to her madness felt tacked on, and it comes out during one of her therapy sessions with her therapist. When that whole angle was just suddenly brought up, I literally said out loud…”wait…what…why?” And then my interest in the film started to lag, where I was quite bored until the couple of minutes right before the end credits start to roll.

The only thing that keeps this film from sinking is the beautiful performance by NOT JENNIFER LAWRENCE, Haley Bennett. You might’ve seen her in supporting stuff like Music & Lyrics, Hardcore Henry, and the film adaptation of The Girl On The Train, but she’s the star here, and her acting makes us feel all the emotions her character goes thru and make us, the audience, want to help her. I am also glad the film didn’t do one other thing. While there is certainly an ick factor of swallowing inanimate objects, the film didn’t go all Saw on everyone. There are a couple of moments where you see some blood but it doesn’t go all gratuitous with it. You’ll probably still dry heave choke with some of what she swallows but you won’t be going and puking in the bathroom from any torture porn film like proportions. The direction is nice and neat. The shots are beautiful and clean, and then you get some of the blood from her character eating those objects which puts a satisfying stain on the picture and the brightness of the environment, metaphorically of course. It’s the ultimate story telling that didn’t work for me. It has a very solid first 45 minutes, and then things sort of go wheels off until the final couple of minutes. Who knows, it may work for you. It’s not like I completely ditched the film, but this would be the only time I would ever swallow the film whole.