Spoiler-free review of “The Devil All the Time”

Kaitlyn Bowers, Features Editor

Netflix’s newest original film has a star-studded cast, but does the storyline have the power to back it up?

Based on a novel of the same name by Donald Ray Pollock, “The Devil All the Time” is a Netflix original starring Tom Holland, Sebastian Stan, Robert Pattinson, and Bill Skarsgård. Released on Sept. 16, the film is described as, “A young man is devoted to protecting his loved ones in a town full of corruption and sinister characters.” However, this description does not do the film justice, as the plot is a lot more convoluted than that. 

Tom Holland plays the young man in question, who goes by Arvin. Traumatic experiences seem to follow wherever he goes, whether it be the death of his mother or the subsequent suicide of his father, played by Bill Skarsgård. Holland plays this character well, although it is in stark contrast to the characters he usually plays. While Marvel movies have him cracking one liners, “The Devil All the Time” has him cracking his knuckles to fight. 

Willard Russell, played by Bill Skarsgård, is incredibly interesting. At the beginning of the film, he is shown to have just returned home from war. His mother had made a promise to God that if Willard returned home from war, then he would marry Helen, an orphan girl played by Mia Wasikowska. While he doesn’t go through with it, it does set up the theme of religion throughout the film.

Bill Skarsgård in “The Devil All the Time”

With a title such as “The Devil All the Time,” one may expect the Devil himself to play a part in the film. However, these characters don’t need to fear the Devil, because they already fear God. God is not portrayed as a benevolent force, he is here to be feared. 

Robert Pattinson’s role is particularly foul, and supports the theme of religion being used as a fear tactic. He plays a preacher who isn’t as holy as he likes to seem. As usual, however, Robert Pattinson puts on a stellar performance. 

The film also follows the story of serial killer couple Sandy and Carl Henderson, played by Riley Keough and Jason Clarke respectively. This is also where Sebastian Stan comes in, as he plays Sandy’s brother, Sheriff Lee Bodecker. At times, the couple’s plotline can seem pointless. Barring a few key moments, their story seems to just be carelessly thrown in. It can even become jarring as it abruptly takes you away from the main plot. 

Robert Pattinson in “The Devil All the Time”

Sheriff Bodecker plays a larger role in the film, although his character is not very likable. Bodecker is a dirty cop without very many redeeming qualities, but his character does help to move along the plot. However, he fails to keep you interested in his own personal storyline. 

As a whole, the plot can be confusing at some parts. By going back and forth between storylines, it became hard to become completely invested in what was being shown on screen. However, the last 30 minutes of the film makes it all worthwhile, although it won’t be spoiled here. 

Spinnaker rates this film 3.5 out of 5 sails.


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].