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The title of this film couldn’t be more spot on. The Devil is everywhere and working all the time in this film… that’s for damn sure. While this film isn’t necessarily a “horror” film, a lot of horrific things happen because of the numerous awful characters. About 70% of the characters here are either pure evil or just completely insane, hence the title. What this film does so well is create a horrific hellish world full of “demons” and show us how the good people try to navigate things. Because of a smart script and superb performances all around… The Devil all the Time is an overall success.
The concept here is one that I really love because it’s unique and engaging. Basically we have a kid who’s world is filled with horrific people who commit vile acts against him and those he loves and we follow him as he grows up. We watch as he navigates this evil and ultimately fights back. There are numerous characters that make up this hell that this innocent boy resides in with only a couple good characters along the way.
The script does a pretty good job of giving all of these different characters ample time to make an impact and do what is needed of them for the story’s sake. Another great thing The Devil All the Time does is weave these characters together in interesting ways, which ultimately leads to a very profound ending. It doesn’t seem like it at first but this film really is a journey for one main character.
Something I think was very smart of the writers was the fact that they gave each one of the bad characters specific motivations and varying evils. Some are motivated to do evil acts because of grief, some out of religious delusion and insanity, some out of greed, some out of selfishness. That was smart because it gives us very different characters and makes things a lot more engaging. There’s nothing one note or “run of the mill” here, you can tell the writers worked hard to create a unique story.
I’ve talked a lot about the evil people and evil acts involved but there is also good. Tom Holland, who ends up being our main protagonist, is one of a few who really are good and try their best to fight the evils around them. I found Holland’s character so profound because of what he endures and because of how he continues to keep that goodness in him alive. A character in a story filled with this much blatant evil could easily fall into the evil around him… but Holland’s character just has an unshakable moral center and craves what all good people crave…. justice and kindness.
Tom Holland, who is our star, gives what’s probably the best performance of his career thus far. Holland is able to not only make us sympathize with him, but he’s also able to present himself as a capable strong leading man. I loved him so much in this lead role. Riley Keough is very good as one of the supporting characters, she shows a whole lot of talent here, just as she did in The Lodge. Sebastian Stan is very good as well. He is one of my favorites and here he demonstrates his ability to do hard hitting drama and do it well. Bill Skarsgard is absolutely incredible here and although he isn’t in a lot of The Devil All the Time he sure makes his time memorable.
The only cast member I felt a bit iffy about was Robert Pattinson as the town pastor. While I loved him in The Lighthouse and High Life, I felt like his performance was just a little too out there. I totally understand the goal and what Pattinson was aiming for but I think he over shot it a bit. But other than that, the acting here is top notch all the way. I’ll admit that yes at certain points in The Devil All the Time, I wondered if this had a point or if it was just trying to be shocking and nihilistic, BUT by the end, this film did have a point. While there is horrific, hard to watch, evil that does happen in this film, the ultimate outcome is a feeling of hope and justice that feels moving and like I mentioned earlier profound.
The Devil all the Time is a well written thriller that does a good job of telling a unique story about a protagonist searching for justice.
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