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COLUMN: ‘The Devil All the Time’ was a wild ride


Robert Pattinson plays the role of Rev. Preston Teagardin in "The Devil All The Time." Movie Stills Database

Well, this is what it’s come to. 

Now that the coronavirus pandemic has thrown us into a timeline where the most notable new movie in theaters is something starring Jim Caviezel called “Infidel,” I suppose I’m stuck watching random thrillers on Netflix. 

I don’t know how many people felt the same way, but I really wasn’t looking forward to “The Devil All the Time.” I wasn’t expecting it to be terrible. But it looked, well, generic. Until I found out Robert Pattinson was in it, there just wasn’t anything interesting about it to me. 

But eventually I realized I hadn’t watched many movies released this year, and I should maybe check this one out. 

And I was pleasantly surprised. 

“The Devil All the Time” has a really complicated story with a lot of moving parts, so I’ll try to summarize the important stuff. In short, it’s about a young man by the name of Arvin Russell, played by Tom Holland, who finds himself at the center of a series of conflicts he could not possibly have planned for. There’s a lot of stuff about God, but I’m going to pretend it didn’t happen because it is the worst part of the movie. 

The one thing I went into “The Devil All the Time” knowing about was the cast, which is pretty impressive. Holland and Pattinson are the biggest names, but Sebastian Stan, Eliza Scanlen, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough and Bill Skarsgård are all kicking around with solid performances. While it wasn’t Pattinson’s best work, it was definitely another example of him taking a weak role and doing what he could with it. 

The real surprise of the movie was how good Tom Holland was. While I do like him as Spider-Man, I didn’t think he’d be able to pull off this particular role. But I was happily proven wrong, and was consistently impressed with his performance. He did a good job with the American accent, which was something even Pattinson was having trouble with, and hit all of the emotional beats. 

I was also surprised by how well-paced it was. I will admit, I was kind of daunted by the 138-minute runtime – it’s only 12 minutes shorter than “Tenet” – but it actually moved pretty quickly. The first act was a little long, but the rest of it wasn’t bad at all. 

There’s still a lot about “The Devil All the Time” that’s kind of mediocre, and even some stuff that’s just bad. 

For one, the movie looks very sloppy. Now that Netflix has gotten comfortable with dedicating massive sums of money to their original films, including their upcoming film “The Gray Man” with its reported budget of $200 million, I’ve started to expect them to look a little better than this. There’s not a lot of creativity with the cinematography, and there are a lot of glaring errors in the editing. While neither of them proved to be too problematic, they were definitely noticeable. 

The main problem with “The Devil All the Time” is the story, which is a complete mess. There are a ton of plotlines to follow, with most of them spread between two separate locations. At times I completely lost track of where certain scenes even were. And that’s not even getting into the many scenes which focused on the topic of God, which felt totally unnecessary and often a little inappropriate. 

Even with those issues, I really enjoyed “The Devil All the Time.” Yeah, it’s messy and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but that’s part of the fun. 

While you won’t hear me calling it great or even particularly good, I still got a real kick out of watching it, and you might too. 

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