On the precipice of adulthood, Ohio teenager Arvin Russell as played Spiderman’s Tom Holland is bequeathed a Luger pistol. A hand-me-down from his deceased father, its meaning is initially lost on him. However, as Director Antonio Campos‘s adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock‘s book gradually unravels, it becomes clear that there’s a lot of interconnected evil awaiting Arvin in the years ahead.
...a handsomely mounted production that will keep you glued to your Netflix account.
Actually, taking this single act as a catalyst isn’t really the intent of Donald Ray Pollock’s story. From a preacher preying on the youth of his flock to a twisted couple killing drifters for kicks or a compromised sheriff choosing to look the other way, evil inveigles itself into every step of Arvin’s life and as such, the film’s meandering path is a deliberately crooked one.
What is clear though from its very first frame is the quality of its cast. Blessed with the scene-stealing presence of Robert Pattinson as a lascivious Reverend Preston Teagardin, there really isn’t much this he can do wrong at the moment. Similarly, Harry Melling excels as evangelical preacher Roy Lafert who has a penchant for spiders (you have been warned) and an equally creepy Jason Clarke who documents his kills with a camera and his accomplice Sandy as played by Riley Keough. Yet, with Tom Holland’s face front and centre in the poster, it is his roles as Arvin that represents his first real step away from teenager roles into something much more conflicted and nuanced. With Douglas Hodge, Bill Skarsgård and Mia Wasikowska’s also there to round out the cast, there certainly isn’t any lack of quality to this movie’s performances.
So whilst, its plot wanders around a fair bit with no initially pre-stated purpose, this is still a handsomely mounted production that will keep you glued to your Netflix account. Beautifully shot and with a customary production value that you can expect from this streaming service, The Devil All The Time is neither cinematic nor televisual. It’s something else. It’s Netflix.
Narrated by the author himself who sounds like an older, not too distant relative of Sam Elliott, I’d recommend this as a decently absorbing couple of hours you could spend on a winter’s night. Just don’t be afraid of spiders, because I checked – and they’re real ones.1