This is quite a difficult movie to sit through as it is basically spending over two hours watching a story unfold that has a lot of bad people in it doing bad things to each other. It takes place in some small rural town in America over a span of period from the end of World War Two until the 1960’s. Life we are told were hard during these times and we are introduced to all sorts of characters who have violent tendencies. We have a war veteran who punishes his son to pray harder for his cancer ridden wife, a husband and wife team who picks up and kill young unsuspecting hitchhikers, a corrupt cop, school bullies, a preacher who molests young impressionable girls and so on. Amidst this gloomy environment is the central story of a young man, Arvin, who gets tangled with these violent characters and hence lead a miserable existence.
Our baby faced Spiderman, Tom Holland takes on the lead role of Arvin and he manages to put on a strong performance as a young man who grew up and learnt from living with a violent father. This is a complex character and to Holland’s credit his manages to provide an interesting contrast of penned up violent aggression, and his innocent appearance. He is supported by an impressive cast that includes Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgard (who played the clown in IT) and Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Alice in the Wonderland). The story is grim, slow paced and told with a linear and rather uncreative manner which makes this watch not easy and at time unpleasant. Throughout the length of the show, we are guided by a narrative whose voice is not linked to any character. The narration seem to be there simply to help the viewers understand and follow the story. This is not a bad thing as at least we won’t be too distracted and get confused by some of the more bizarre things that happen. However at times the narration tells the obvious and is even repetitive, making it feel more intrusive than enlightening. Indeed it can feel a bit annoying and unnecessary especially when the narration explains the obvious making me feel the film makers have a bit of a low opinion on the audiences’ level of comprehension. The script also never provided the opportunities for any stand out scenes for our cast to show off their talents.
The Devil All The Time has good intentions to tell a good story but the source material is simply too dark and negative to be something that one can come out saying we were entertained by it. By following the story, the movie never stood a chance to come out as anything but a piece of depressing tale among the desolate.