The Devil All the Time

Darkness and Violence Within

By Syeda Maham Rasheed | October 2020

‘The Devil All the Time’ is a psychological thriller directed by Antonio Campos who is famous for hit films like ‘Afterschool’ (2008), ‘Silent Killer’ (2012) and ‘Christine’ (2016). Based on the novel of the same name by Donald Ray Pollock, the film has Tom Holland, Robert Pattison, Bill Skarsgard, Sebastian Stan and Mia Wasikowska. Though it suffered with its release due to the coronavirus pandemic but it found a home at Netflix after being released in some theatres.

Set in the town of Knockemstiff, Ohio, the story revolves around the residents of the area who are somehow connected to Arvin Russell (Tom Holland).

The story is divided into two sections. During the 1940s, Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgård) returns home to Knockemstiff from World War II, carrying the heavy weight of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Willard’s son is Arvin (Michael Banks Repeta) who is nine in the first section of the film.

Then, during the 1960s, where Arvin, now a troubled orphan, is traumatised by the death of his parents. His mother Charlotte (Haley Bennett) dies from cancer and, in grief, his father commits suicide, leaving him alone. He now lives with his step sister Lenora (Eliza Scanlen), grandmother Emma (Kristin Griffith) and great uncle Earskell (David Atkinson).

Lenora’s father was killed by Carl and Sandy Henderson (Jason Clarke and Riley Keough), a creepy couple who goes around picking up male hitchhikers and then killing them after satisfying Carl’s desires. But because the town’s Sheriff Lee Bodecker (Sebastian Stan) is Sandy’s older brother, they never get caught. Her mother (Mia Wasikowska) was also murdered by an evil preacher (Harry Melling). So when another corrupt preacher Reverend Preston Teagardin (Robert Pattison) enters the narrative and flirts with Lenora, Arvin has to decide if he can stop the cycles of violence.

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