Now Reading: Preachers, Murderers and A Haunting Western Town: A Review of Netflix’s The Devil All the Time


Preachers, Murderers and A Haunting Western Town: A Review of Netflix’s The Devil All the Time

September 18, 20208 min read

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers.

Amazing actors, a haunting town and a lot of violence and corruption…

The Devil All the Time has just been released on Netflix and it is definitely a must watch. I was wildy impressed by this movie. Yes, it is a bit of a slow-burner, but nonetheless it did well to tell the story just as it needed to be told.

Antonio Campos perfectly adapts Donald Ray Pollocks novel into a realist drama of a sinister town and the corrupted characters that live there. The Campos brothers perfectly wrote this screenplay to slowly, yet perfectly introduce each and every character carefully into the story. Starting off with Bill Skarsgard’s character, Willard. Skarsgard, as exepected, did an amazing job at portraying a troubled and traumatised war veteran. In particular, I loved Campos’ use of flashbacks to allow the viewers to understand what elements of war truly scarred him. Particularly how they caused conflict regarding his faith in religion.

Speaking of religion, this is one of the main recurring themes of the movie. Campos cleverly demonstrates, without directly saying so, how brutal and corrupt man can be in the name of faith. Each and every character claims that their actions are correct, because the Lord says so. However, from the events we see, we know that they are far from correct and that they are simply playing God. For example Campos shows a parallel nature between Roy, Preston and Carl. All three of these characters are extremely power thirsty and commit crimes in the name of God. I love how despite their disgusting natures, Pollocks clearly shows an element of karma taking place in all the characters that did wrong in the story. Although many characters try to play God or misinterpret what God means, their fate does not lie in their hands- thus instantly ridding them of their so-called power. For example, Roy murders his wife in attempt to perform a ressurection and is then murdered and tortured by Carl. Similarly, Carl is then shot by Arven, which is viewed as karma due to all the murders he had committed.

Another aspect of the movie that I quite enjoyed was the use of a narrator. Turns out the narrator is in fact Donald Ray Pollocks- the author of the book. The use of the narrator allowed us to truly grasp an insight into each and every character and event, therefore making it easier to understand and follow the plot. This addition to the movie also added to the old western feel of the movie, again perfectly adding to the location and the themes.

Campos continues to add to the sinister feel throughout the movie. Firstly through his use of colour palette that consists of dull, bland and grey colours. I thought this was a clever touch that added to the realist themes that the movie touches upon, but also through the lifelessness it creates. Furthermore, the use of music also compliments the sinister themes. Through the use of eerie orchestral music throughout the movie, which perfectly add to the intensity of scenes. Alongside the eerie orchestral music, old fifties music is added, perhaps to add to the realism of the movie. However, in a way, it does add to the haunting atmosphere within the movie.

One of the most exciting aspects of this movie is all the well-known actors: Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Sebastian Stan, Harry Melling, Eliza Scanlen. Each and every one of these actors convincingly portrayed just how corrupted their characters where. There weren’t many likeable characters in the story, yet the acting remained en pointe. In particular, there were two actors that stood out the most to me, starting with Robert Pattinson. Now he is someone who is definitely rising in regards to his acting career. Pattinson has been in the talks lately to a few new movies including Tenet, The Devil All the Time and Batman. He has definitely impressed me lately! He perfectly portrays a vile, corrupt and power obsessed preacher, who is anything but faithful to God or women. Similarly another character that definitely surprised me was Harry Melling. Now, I don’t think I have seen Harry Melling act since he played Dudley Dursley in Harry Potter! And yet his acting was so well done. Alike Preston (Pattinson), Roy (Melling) was disturbing and corrupt. However, he was corrupt and brutal more in a deluded manner rather than him being malicious. Nonetheless, I was not expecting him to appear, nor portray the character so amazingly.

So far, the movie has had a range of good and bad feedback thus meaning that the movie had settled on an IMDb rating of 7.3/10. First and foremost, one of the main negative aspects of the movie was the fact that it is indeed a slow burner. The movie slowly introduces scenes and characters. This was an element that I liked, due to the detail being given carefully, when the time is right. However, I agree that it is a long movie. Also, the movie deals with so many characters and occurences, that there isn’t really a clear conflict and solution. However, this mainly added to its realist effect of simply following the everyday lives of a very disturbed and corrupted town. Moreover, I think another area of the movie that not everyone is keen on is how extremely negative the movie was. In all honesty, I took a few breaks from watching the movie due to how many negative events happened one after another. These issues aside, I still think the movie was extremely well done, and realistic. Furthermore, I think the acting was one of a kind, and definitely aided the film in being superb.


The Devil All the Time is now available on Netflix.


Featured Image via YouTube.

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