The Devil All the Time: Movie Review

Harrowing and exhausting, "The Devil All the Time" was a depressing film experience even more so in this backdrop of being stuck at home and a foreboding sense of hopelessness for the past six months due to the pandemic. The film impacts you with the heavy perception of a non-stop spiral towards doom and while the film showcases the grim and sadistic realities of life in a very striking manner, it really begs the question if we really needed this kind of extreme film in our lives today.

Set between World War II and the Vietnam War, the film chronicles the lives of several people across several years around the area of Meade, Ohio. Their lives will be connected in ways that will test their faiths, beliefs, convictions, and ultimately moralities. At the center of this chaos is Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) who, even at a very young age, has had a tumultuous life and his future looking as stark as his past experiences.
At almost two and a half hours long, "The Devil All the Time" takes its sweet time to develop and unveil its secrets. But early on in the film, it already sets its overall tone - one that is bleak, hopeless, and full of grievous actions that made it a very tiring and exhausting experience. And its title doesn't lie as we find "devils" and evils in almost every corner and almost every character from start to finish. So if you want something that will cheer you up, then you should probably pass watching "The Devil All the Time" as there are literally no high points in this film that could be summed up as a feel-good moment. Putting its heavy tone aside, we won't deny though that the film was exquisite to look at. The cinematography and production values were amazing and had a tendency to suck us into its rural and highly-devout setting easily. It also helps that the acting from the cast was powerful especially for Tom Holland who found a way to successfully portray a disturbed and scarred young man with his own demons and sins in a portrayal very far from what we typically expect from him. As for the writing, we actually have mixed feelings. While the themes explored were dark, twisted and ultimately thought-provoking, there's this lack of character development that left us severely hanging. The film heavily revolves around the character of Arvin Russell which left several other main characters without enough time to really develop their personas. For example, we wanted to know more about the psyche of the serial killers Carl and Sandy Henderson but the film only shows them luring hitchhikers without enough backstory or context for their planing or motivations. Overall, "The Devil All the Time" has key concepts that will make you think twice about your own convictions but at the expense of an emotionally and psychologically imbalanced experience.
Rating: 3 and a half reels

Why you should watch it:
- the acting performances were powerful from each cast
- the production values are top-notch

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- this film was an exhausting and bleak experience with little hope until the end
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