By Benjamin Noel
The Devil All the Time is a timeless thriller set in the Midwest, in years after the Second World War. In this Netflix Original cinematic retelling of Donald Ray Pollock’s book of the same name, the star studded cast and the gripping storyline keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Over the course of two hours, we watch the unfolding of the intertwined lives of two serial killers, a crooked preacher and a kid with some serious bad luck.
The story unwinds in a jumbled up fashion, jumping back and forth between storylines and times, but is easy to follow. While I expected a slow burn thriller, I was pleasantly surprised by the film’s pace. Throughout it’s rather long runtime, the film has over a dozen points of tension, and the pace never lets off after the first character’s introduction. While the narrator (author Donald Pollock himself) keeps the story moving, the characters are responsible for the movie's memorable morally gripping moments, brought home with the acting prowess of Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Robert Pattinson, and more.
Even with a runtime of over two hours, we surprisingly do not get well acquainted with the characters as a result of the tightly packed story line. They are hardly given any personality outside of what is required to move the plot along. However, the lack of individuality, and formlessness of the character’s outside of what’s shown on screen allows these figures to represent a type of person, and become an archetype. For example, the movie does not give us much backstory or depth to a certain child molesting preacher. But his advances towards an underage girl are utterly repulsive, knowing the commonality of this type of man. The character’s are not individuals, but rather symbols, painting the picture of the traumatized soldier, the perverted preacher, or the loyal son.
I found my heart racing multiple times throughout the film, predicting the next mind blowing build up or dreading what may go wrong. And in the film’s two plus hour run time, I never quite got bored, as the story absolutely refused to slow down, with conflict always right around the corner. Without a doubt, this movie is right for fans of thrillers, mysteries and anything fast paced.
Overall, the movie was an absolute home run, the storytelling, characters, and beautifully executed motifs earn it a spot in my top ten movies of all time. I can’t get enough of the story, so I will be picking up a copy of the book. This film is a must watch!
Melanie Moyer '22,