The Banality of “The Devil All The Time”

The Devil All The Time, a film which enticed viewers with a compelling plot and extreme talent, but lacked substance as each storyline converged into an unsatisfying and dispiriting conclusion.


Annabelle Stuelpe and Cate Carlson

The Devil All The Time, an R-rated psychological thriller found on Netflix, stars Tom Holland as Arvin Eugene Russel, a traumatized high school student forced into situations against devilish characters. In this two hour movie, manipulation, corruption, and sin are examined through unusually connected people in small, rural towns as the virtue of organized religion is called into question. This was a tragic movie with repeating tribulation for each character as they all eventually reached death or immense heartbreak. It enticed viewers with a compelling plot and extreme talent, but lacked substance as each storyline converged into an unsatisfying and dispiriting conclusion. However, viewers may disagree as The Devil All the Time charted first on the top ten Netflix movies. Both Holland and actor Robert Pattinson enabled the film to reach the success that it did. Holland rose to prominence in his portrayal of Marvel’s Spider-Man, first playing the role in the latter half of Captain America: Civil War, and later playing Spiderman in four more films set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Pattinson rose to fame for his role of Cedric Diggory in the 2005 film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and later was cemented as a prevalent Hollywood actor for his role of Edward Cullen in five movies portraying the Twilight series. By including both Holland and Pattinson in The Devil All the Time, viewing the film became more exciting, as it was highly-anticipated by the audience to view the performances of both prominent actors. 

Tom Holland chose to play the role of Arvin to challenge himself and others’ perception of him. His most famous role, Spider-Man, allowed Holland to display an energetic, fast-talking genius and, as he mentioned in an interview, Arvin is the complete opposite. From when Holland first appeared on the screen, we saw his mannerisms completely differ from those of past roles. He brought a slow steadiness to his character and, even when extremely violent, his character was always in control of the situation. Holland’s portrayal of Arvin was one of talent and everything about the character was enjoyable. 

Robert Pattinson plays Pastor Teagardin, a character who is one of the more sinister in the movie, grooming and engaging sexually with young girls. Pattinson appears midway through the film, when his character, Teagardin, first arrives in the town of [whatever the town is called] to act as a substitute for the older minister who had to resign due to health concerns. Pattinson was adamant about developing his unique southern accent entirely on his own. The director, Antonio Campos, describes Robert Pattinson as being extremely closed off when it came to the development of his character and accent. “Rob was impossible to get dialect coaching. He just didn’t want to do it. He was just adamant about figuring it out on his own. He would be like, ‘I’m gonna do this thing, and that thing, with a little bit of this,”” said Campos in an interview for The Insider. The accent Pattinson used in the film was shrill and defining to the character. The British actor had no trace of his natural accent, and the cultivated southern manner he donned gave a special zing to Teagardin’s portrayal.

The Devil All the Time transparently caters to fans of the psychological thriller genre in film. With a gloomy and slow-burning plot, which gradually becomes more twisted and sinister, it takes a true fan of the genre to sit through the two hours and eighteen minutes. The plot consists of deaths and disappointments and ends in an inconclusive manner. Overall, Both Holland and Pattinson took on their individual characters well and became the greatest reason to watch this movie.