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The Devil All The Time, 2020 – ★★★

“There’s some no good sons of bitches out there”

“The Devil All The Time”, a backwoods, West Virginian tale about faith and the cycle of violence, is the fourth feature from director Antonio Campos. It boasts some committed performances from Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, and Bill Skarsgaard. The film is littered with beautiful shots and is confidently directed throughout.

This is one of those films where my inner thoughts for the next few days are going to have a backcountry drawl to them. That’s probably a testament to the dialogue which I felt was very good. This felt like a film adapted from a novel, which can a good and bad thing at times. I think adaptations work best when the film can be its own thing and you are not constantly reminded of the source material.

Though I have only seen clips (I have it on my watchlist) I think Charles Laughtons “The Night of the Hunter” was a major inspiration for this film. Maybe its because Pattinson reminds me of a young Robert Mitchum, or maybe its the setting, or because of the “Immoral Preacher” character, but I kept thinking about that film when watching this one.

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The tension towards the third act felt like it was rising and aiming toward something substantial that never really came, but maybe that was on purpose. Violence feeling familiar is one of the major themes of the film; the feeling that these things have happened before and will continue to happen again. I still was left feeling like the character-stakes toward the end were not as heavy as they were earlier in the film. I also wish the female characters here had a little more agency.

Regardless there were very few issues in my opinion. I’m super excited to see Campos future work because this was beautifully made with a stellar cast. Here’s to hoping Netflix keeps sending these our way.

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