The Devil All The Time, directed and co-written by Antonio Campos, will most likely be another divisive 2020 film that features Riley Keough (other one being ‘The Lodge’) because it certainly tests your patience and commitment. But to that I would just like to say: DELUSIONS! There are several storylines going on in it either linearly or non-linearly. First we follow Willard (Bill Skarsgård), a returning Marine who later has a son Arvin (Tom Holland) and then there’s a preacher and his wife who have a daughter Lenora (Eliza Scanlen). As teens, Arvin and Lenora come across a new preacher in town (Robert Pattinson) while we switch from them to find a serial killer (Jason Clarke), his wife Sandy (Keough) and Sandy’s sheriff brother (Sebastian Stan). Sounds complicated enough? Luckily there’s some nifty editing and captivating acting that keep you engaged on this tale of intertwining religion, crime and corruption.
Work of the actors are also probably the reason why you either clock in or clock out of this one. Holland’s character is the lead in second half and the role is biggest stretch possible for him at this point of his career. Holland could have used more screen time to make a bigger splash but he does a fine job either way. Pattinson and Keough are the two to keep an eye on though, Pattinson’s bigger-than-Ohio accent and expressions fit the pretentious preacher Teagardin perfectly and Keough’s cunning work is a thrilling ride. Even outside of the three, the performances compliment the story which is a hard feat for cast this big and talented. First hour of the movie does make you worry for the story that’s playing out but the last third saves it in a massive way, all the storylines finally come together to provide a satisfying conclusion to your time investment.
The synopsis of ”The Devil” is definitely a headache but editor Sofía Subercaseaux delivers some magic in the editing bay to make it flow well. Someone nervous would’ve made the location and time transitions too complicated with fades, flashes and thousand establishing shots but here you just move along effortlessly. Something that an editor can’t save however is what material the director wants on the screen in the first place. Stan’s corrupt sheriff Bodecker gets the short stick as the character who makes parts drag. He could’ve been used as the eyes and ears on all the crime happening but instead we get some awkward scenes that only give him vague motives. As said, the first hour also has some of those same problems and it could’ve used more excitement because the film really only kicks in when Holland and Pattinson’s characters start to run into each other. That is also when we start getting more of Clarke and Keough.
Smileys: Robert Pattinson, Riley Keough, editing, story
There was so much more potential here but at least this is going to be the Oscar push for Pattinson in supporting role instead of ‘Tenet’. It shares some DNA with the performances in ‘The Lighthouse’. But most importantly: DELUSIONS!