We Got an Exclusive Look at Netflix’s Newest A-List Thriller
This is an opinion piece.
"The Devil All the Time," put quite simply, is a must-see. Based on a novel written by Donald Ray Pollock, the gothic thriller (directed by Antonio Campos) debuts on Netflix tomorrow.
It has lived up to every ounce of Oscar buzz it has received thus far. Horror, an often overlooked genre in Hollywood, is given a platform here where it can truly showcase its ability to achieve cinematic excellence. This film explores the chilling psychosis of the human condition as each character is pushed to their mental brink and tested in, what they believe, are the eyes of God.
Taking place in the rural backwoods of Ohio and West Virginia, "The Devil All the Time" banks on its incredibly successful ability to horrify the audience through unsettling silence and gripping suspense.
The story begins with a young veteran, played by Bill Skarsgård, returning from the South Pacific after the conclusion of World War II in 1945. The film eventually develops into an entangled web of complex character arcs and wicked backstories that will keep the viewer enthralled from beginning to end.
With little to do in these sleepy towns except attend church and study scripture, their blind, cult-like, and often overzealous faith in God ironically leads to unthinkable sacrifices and sinister acts of unholiness.
The cast was dominated by many highly profiled English actors, who got the chance to exercise their southern accents on the silver screen. While every actor in "The Devil All the Time" went above and beyond in bringing their literary counterparts to life, some performances that were particularly outstanding were done by Skarsgård, Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough and Harry Melling.
Tom Holland plays Arvin Russel, around whom the film is centered. He is one of the few characters that possess any sort of moral compass and, only when he has to, embarks on a righteous crusade against the slew of others who don’t.
Throughout the film, Holland does an incredible job of not only making Arvin likable but also perfectly captures the ever-changing character arc as he utilizes the traumatizing experiences from Arvin’s childhood to develop into the young man he ultimately becomes.
Of the film's many villains, Pattison’s character will undoubtedly be the most hated. Rev. Preston Teagardin is a lecherous preacher who uses his prominent influence as the town’s new minister to prey upon the naivety of the young girls in his congregation. Pattison channeled his inner Jerry Vines to achieve his unique Baptist-like southern accent.
Skarsgård does great justice to his complex role of a guilt-ridden veteran obsessed and ultimately driven mad by his need to repent. Willard Russell may have been lucky enough to return home from the war with his life, but along with it came a closet of dark and twisted demons. Clearly an undiagnosed case of PTSD, Willard’s heartbreaking struggle to find peace in a quiet town turns him into a horrifying, misunderstood patron trapped in mental anguish from his experiences as a soldier in the war.
Keough and Clarke play a serial killer couple (Carl and Sandy Henderson) with a lust for blood who pose as friendly road travelers with a knack for luring unsuspecting hitchhikers into their car for a ride they’ll never forget. Carl, played by Clarke, is exceptional in his role as a twisted and paranoid serial murderer.
According to the film, “Only in the presence of death could he feel the presence of something like God.” Keough, Clarke’s partner in crime, is equally as outstanding but holds herself to a higher moral standard. Her character’s fleeting attempt at redemption unfortunately plays a prominent role in her ultimate demise.
Melling, who was previously best known for his role as Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter franchise, steps out of his shadow in the wizarding world to bring an incredible performance in "The Devil All the Time."
Laferty is a holy rolling clergyman who believes there isn’t a problem absolutist faith can’t fix. His radical convictions are truly put to the test as he attempts to make the ultimate sacrifice to God. His unwavering trust in what he believes is his duty from the Lord may lead him down a path from which he can never return.
Whether you are a loyal fan of all things suspenseful or just looking for an exciting new original to keep you on the edge of your seat, "The Devil All the Time" is the perfect horrifying thriller to shock you beyond belief.
This film premieres exclusively on Netflix Sept. 16.