‘The Devil All the Time’ shocks with intriguing storyline, suspenseful action


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Tom Holland, right, stars as the main character, Arvin Russell, in ‘the Devil All the Time’.

“The Devil All the Time” is a thriller film by director Antonio Campos, available only on Netflix. The film was released on Sept. 11 and is rated R. It stars actors Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson.

The film is set in the Appalachian region of the United States, mainly playing back and forth between the towns of Knockemstiff, Ohio, and Coal Creek, West Virginia. Throughout, Donald-Ray Pollock acts as a narrator, which sets it apart from other movies.

The first part of the film details the upbringings and early life of the main character, Arvin. His father, Willard, has recently returned home from fighting in World War II and meets a woman named Charlotte, Arvin’s mother. Then, the movie transitions to after the two get married and Arvin’s life as a child in Knockemstiff. Arvin witnesses a series of traumatic events, one of which is the death of his mother due to cancer and the later death of his father. He is taken in by his aunt and uncle, ending the first segment of the film.

This part is crucial to the development of the film, with important insights about the history of Arvin’s heritage being revealed, as well as Arvin’s early experiences being unveiled. Tragedy and sinning juxtapose the largely religious people of this region and make for a spine-shivering thriller that draws the audience in. A review of the film from the Verge, points out that, “Arvin’s life is molded by tragedies outside of his control and knowledge.”

The other part of the film, which deals with Arvin’s life as a teenager in the 1960s, is interspersed with action from multiple angles and perspectives. Throughout it, Arvin’s adopted stepsister, Lenora, faces immense hardships, while Arvin does everything in his power to help her. Also, Arvin encounters dangerous threats that lead to him having to fight for his life. Chaos ensues and ends with Arvin fleeing from the police, due to becoming a suspect in the death of a local pastor who Arvin found to have been misleading Lenora into a horrible situation.

Taken together, both parts of Arvin’s life reveal tragic and horrifying experiences that haunt the regions of Appalachia where Arvin grew up and also the traumatic experiences that directly affect him. The struggles of Lenora are disheartening and merciless, which appeal to the deep sense of emotion one expects to find in this film.

Overall, “The Devil All the Time” is quite an intense experience. Although the focus on the tragic events endured by the areas of Arvin’s upbringings is scattered, it does not diminish from the intriguing and horrifying nature of the film or the amazing acting as a whole. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a deeply intrinsic and mind-boggling movie, however I would not say it is my favorite film of the year.