This article contains spoilers for both “The Devil All the Time” and “Gone Girl”
The Devil All the Time is a psychological thriller based on a book of the same name. Directed by Antonio Campos, it starts out with a disturbing scene of Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgård) as he shoots a half-alive, maggot-infested man left to die on a cross during World War II. On his way home from the war, Willard stops at a diner and falls in love with a waitress named Charlotte (Haley Bennett). The two fall in love, get married and have a son named Arvin.
Around the same time, a woman named Helen Hatton (Mia Wasikowska) marries the charming preacher of the town, Roy Laferty (Harry Melling aka Dudley Dursley). Together, they have a daughter named Lenora. One day, Roy asks Helen out on a drive. Helen, being friends with Willard’s mom, asks her to watch Lenora. Roy takes Helen out to the middle of the woods and stabs her in the neck with a screwdriver, thinking he can resurrect her. That doesn’t work, so he hitchhikes to get Lenora but is unluckily murdered by a pair of serial killers.
So, Lenora is raised by Willard’s mom. Meanwhile, Charlotte develops cancer and Willard becomes really distraught about it. He makes Arvin go and pray with him at a makeshift cross in the woods constantly. Desperately, Willard even sacrifices Arvin’s dog and nails him to the cross, a grudge Arvin holds for years. In the end, however, the cancer is too advanced and Charlotte dies. Willard, distraught, ends up committing suicide and leaves Arvin to grow up with Lenora.
Skipping to the present day, Tom Holland plays a grown up Arvin. He’s immensely protective of Lenora (Eliza Scanlen) and also resents his father. Now, Arvin’s story is really about getting justice for the two generations of families.
The Devil All the Time is a story about religion and revenge. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s honestly kind of forgettable. The star-studded cast delivers great performances, but the plot seemed to lack any meaning. There is little else to the story other than unluckiness, pain and murder. None of the characters really experience growth or display any sense of complexity. Psychological thrillers are about messing with your mind, and this movie didn’t do that. Take the big moment in Gone Girl for example, when it is revealed that Amy Dunne faked her own death. From that moment on, we begin to think more about relationships, power dynamics and the complexity of morality. Complexity is essential to the psychological thriller. Everything in the latter half of The Devil All the Time just seemed so predictable. I wasn’t really left to contemplate anything because of how neatly the ending wrapped up the whole movie.
Honestly, even though this movie didn’t impart any wisdom on me, it was still interesting. Watch this movie, as I did, because you heard Robert Pattinson was in it. It’s not a bad movie, it’s just not one that’s going to live rent free in my mind. If you don’t mind a lot of gore and religion piques your interest, go right ahead. Otherwise, I recommend that you save yourself the two hours and eighteen minutes.