The devil lurks in the dark! was a headline we recently used to characterize the intense thriller The Lighthouse, but you know how well it also describes this outrageous drama.
In the mid-1950s, war veteran Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgård) tries to create a life and start a family. His godly mother wants him to marry “a word of God from the land,” Helen, but he falls for the sweet and charming waitress Charlotte.
The son, Arvin (Michael B. Repeta / Tom Holland) gets to experience tragedy in his young life, illness and a father who suffers from mental war injuries and a fanatical belief in God – a belief in God and relationship with the Devil who pursues him through life.
The historical drama takes place in godly small towns in Ohio and West Virginia, where tragic family stories are intertwined. The church is the meeting point of the city and the Devil must be kept at a distance. To the city comes the new, eel-smooth, preacher Preston (Robert Pattinson), he mocks the poor and lures the city’s young girls to sexual obscenities – everything in God’s name must know.
There is certainly not much light in the dark in The Devil All the Time, we are bombarded for over two hours with violence, sexual assault, corruption, moral decay, religious sacrifices, serial killers, kinky sex toys and a crucified skinned soldier. Heavy diet for a dark autumn evening, but then we are also served fascinating characters and an engaging story; as well as a wonderful music track.
The film is based on the novel by Donald Ray Pollock (who by the way is the narrator’s voice) where shame, religion and inherited sin are at the center of the unfortunate characters. Directed by New Yorker Antonio Campos, who also wrote the screenplay. We are sucked into the exciting story packed with a distinctive gallery of characters, unfortunately the dramaturgy lags a bit, too many threads have to be collected so that you occasionally rush, a little halt-to-bolter, off – despite the fact that the film lasts well over two hours .
All of the characters carry major character flaws, are plagued by varying degrees of religious fanaticism, anxiety and live their miserable lives at the bottom of society’s ladder. So definitely Southern stereotypes, and occasionally caricatured; but outstanding actors make them uncomfortably alive.
Tom Holland (best known as a bastard of a Spider-Man) impresses at times as a stubborn, angry young man who has experienced more tragedy in a childhood than most would be able to process. A good boy who learned from his father that sometimes you have to resort to violence if life goes against you.
His lost father, Bill Skarsgård (Castle Rock), once again proves what an excellent character actor he is. A perfect person if you are looking for a scary person. But, it’s Robert (Twilight!), Pattinson who gives us chills on our backs.
Like the cynical, self-righteous asshole of a pastor, Pattinson is a joy (horror) to witness. His annoying, nasal voices and condescending eyes should enter the curriculum of any theater college! With The Lighthouse, and more recently Tenet, Pattinson has risen to a new level as an actor.
The Devil All the Time is a captivating family chronicle, which unfortunately wants a little too much, yawns too loudly and does not quite find the focus of the story. 4 strong stars for an unusual movie experience, which is definitely worth seeing when the nights get long.