The Devil All the Time: A Stupid, Gory and Nonsensical Movie

Nothing good happens in this movie.


Holland is at a point in his career right now where he can make whatever movie he wants to make, or get any role he wants to; and I think it says a lot about himself when he chooses a movie like this. (The Devil all the Time/ Netflix, 2020)

Isaac Fishman, reporter

The Devil All the Time is a wet napkin, covered in blood, guts and gore. This movie is so bad that Tom Holland, one of the most lovable actors in Hollywood today, comes off as distant and uninspiring, which is in part thanks to his Dick Van Dyke level of southern accent. The Devil All the Time is not only a representation of a bad movie, but of everything that’s wrong with Hollywood these days, and how in one of the most progressive and elite cultures in the world, movies like this are still allowed to get past their infant stages. 

There are many things wrong with the movie, but let’s start with an overview. Arvin Eugene Russel (Tom Holland, Michael Repeta) is a boy living with his abusive but loving father (Bill Skarsgård) and his kind and benevolent mother (Haley Bennet). Things go awry when Arvin’s mom contracts cancer and proceeds to die in an unspecified period of time, two months maximum. Arvin’s father takes it hard and believes that crucifying Arvin’s dog, Jack, as a sacrifice will make God take the cancer away. It, of course, doesn’t work and Arvin’s father kills himself at the bottom of a crucifix with a knife to the throat, leaving Arvin to walk into town. Tired and sad, he proceeds to the general store to report his dad’s death on the day of his mother’s funeral.

That’s the first 45 minutes of the two hours and fifteen minute movie. It takes 45 to do something that should take twenty five. In a movie that has Tom Holland at the front of the poster, it takes 45 minutes for him to actually appear on the screen. This is a confusing choice, as Tom Holland is what draws most people to watch this movie. After we fast forward nine years into the future and Arvin is 18, we diverge into an A and B plot, which are not connected in any significant, plot altering way until about the last 25 minutes of the movie. 

The A plot follows the events in Arvin’s town and the happenings with his step sister and the new preacher that moves into town, and his misdeeds. The B plot follows a serial murderer and rapist with his wife as they take road trips around the country, pick up strangers and take pictures of them in compromising positions with the serial murderer’s wife and then murder the victim in increasingly gruesome and gory ways. I know right? Totally belongs in the same movie. The brother of the serial murderer’s wife, the sheriff, is also trying to figure out what’s going on with the couple but his character arc is so stupid and trivial that I could’ve written it better. His only defining trait is that he’ll do anything to protect his family. Actually, that is the only defining trait of any protagonist in this movie.

Nothing good happens in this movie. It just goes from tragedy to tragedy, without anyone really learning a lesson other than “life sucks” or “why me god why.” There is a gratuitous amount of blood, death, and nudity which makes for a dour and lackluster film. But what upsets me most about this movie is the lack of people of color and complex women. In the entire movie, which takes up a runtime of two hours and eighteen minutes, there is not a single person of color. No extras, no pictures, no nothing. Entirely white people. Keep in mind that the movie takes place in Ohio and West Virginia, places with 14% and 5% African American populations respectively. Not only the lack of people of color makes this a poor movie but it also contains no complex female characters. All the women in this movie exist only to please a man or are grandmas. It is unacceptable and inexcusable to have no complex female characters and no people of color in any movie, much less one featuring an A-list, rising star celebrity like Tom Holland. 

Holland is at a point in his career right now where he can make whatever movie he wants to make, or get any role he wants to; and I think it says a lot about himself when he chooses a movie like this. It makes me view Holland in a completely different way than when I began watching the movie. He seems less complex, worldly, and aware of the power he holds from being an A list celebrity. Tom Holland could do much better, and it truly is a shame that he doesn’t.