We always aspire to be like our parents when we are young. They teach us life lessons and often we hold onto them, passing them to our children. From an outside perspective, it’s easy to see how wrong it is, but from close-up, it looks like the right thing. People of power often manipulate those to do wrong by convincing them it’s right.
The Devil All The Time is a film I was excited about, mostly because of the cast. Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson and Bill Skarsgard are three incredible actors and I was surprised to see them team up for this film. Of course, there are a number of films with famous actors that turn out to be a flop, but Netflix has been generating great original content. I went in expecting a good film and that’s exactly what I got.
The story centres around Arvin who grows up in old-time America. His parents were madly in love but then sadly his mother passes away. He feels responsible to look after his sister who is bullied daily at school. She becomes entangled with a manipulative pastor who is not a religious man but rather enjoys abusing power. We also follow a murderous couple who lure in hitchhikers, exploit them and then end them.
There are many layers to this film, including a bit of time jumping but one of my favourite things about this film, is how it is told as a story. The narrator adds a brilliant effect of having an old friend talking to you about how things were in the past. The acting is superb and you forget that they are actors but truly see them as the characters they are portraying. As a viewer, you can feel the anguish, the discomfort, even the belief that is being conveyed.
Religion itself has always been a controversial topic as some people believe it leads to extremism. In every kind of group, whether it is a hobby or faith, there will be some people there with ill intentions. As a spiritual person myself, I found this film not to be offensive at all. There is corruption in this world in so many different establishments and this story feels real. It’s based in a small town in an era when church was crucial to everyone there.
The original pastor clearly believed what he was preaching but then strayed away from the church. A new pastor came in with the intention to have an easy life and indulge. Again, it’s clearly portrayed to us that this isn’t what faith or religion is about. It just so happens that now this town has a new problematic person.
The concept that I got from this story is that we are all capable of bad things, even if we are doing it for the right reasons. Most of the characters in this film are good people at their core but they end up down a path of doing wrong. In the entire film, there are only two evil characters (who don’t cross paths), one being the new pastor and the other being the male from the murderous double act. Despite this, almost every character does something outrageous at least once. Basically, as well as being a captivating story, it allows for a bit of self-reflection.
The negative might be that it is a long film with not a lot of action so I watched it in parts rather than sitting through the whole thing. I suppose parts of it are a bit cheesy with how the characters are portrayed. However, I think it’s intentional as that’s how things were. Something that is logical to us now, may not have been like that 70 years ago.
I’d highly recommend watching this film as long as you can deal with some of the heavier subjects (basically every tough subject is touched on at least a little). The ending is hopeful which makes the difficulties worth it. It’s also interesting to see how far we’ve come as a society. Obviously things are different globally still, but it is nice to see that we live in a somewhat safer world. It’s also a great lesson about spotting the red flags when someone new comes into your life.
My Rating - 8/10