Tom Holland may be most well-known for portraying our favorite web-slinger, and the awkward teenager beneath the Spider-Man suit, Peter Parker. But if you want to see him take on a much darker role, you absolutely have to throw The Devil all the Time onto your Netflix queue. But don’t say we didn’t warn you, because this Southern Gothic psychological crime thriller based on the Donald Ray Pollock novel of the same name is not for the faint of heart by any stretch of the imagination.
Set in a post World War II America, The Devil all the Time boasts an all-star ensemble cast including Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan, and Robert Pattinson to name a few. The story centers on problematic family dynamics while exploring the dark side of relying on faith and prayer to cure illness, as well as the flawed human condition that is portrayed in this film.
The Devil all the Time first introduces us to the Russell family. Willard Russell is a former World War II Gunnery Sergeant who meets a waitress named Charlotte in Meade, Ohio while traveling back to his home in Coal Creek, West Virginia. The two marry, settle down, and conceive their son, Arvin (Tom Holland).
It’s during these establishing scenes that The Devil all the Time introduces us to a photographer named Carl, who is shortly after revealed to be a prolific serial killer.
Snakes, Spiders And Preachers
The narrative then shifts over to the Laferty family, whose patriarch, Roy, is an evangelical preacher who uses unorthodox methods to demonstrate his faith. One such method involves covering himself with venomous spiders during his sermon, which goes terribly wrong when he gets bitten on the ace by one of the spiders, and loses his grip on reality.
Though getting bitten by a spider is something that Tom Holland’s Peter Parker experienced in the light-hearted Spider-Man movies, this is the only parallel that you’ll find between the MCU and The Devil all the Time, which is about to go to a very dark place.
The Wild Story Unravels
After getting bitten by the spider, Roy’s delusions lead him to believe that he can raise the dead. He tests out his theory by stabbing his wife Helen, killing her, and failing to resurrect her. In a state of distress, Roy hitchhikes, and is picked up by Carl and his wife Sandy, who plan to murder him after violating him sexually.
Though Roy refuses the couple’s advances in The Devil all the Time, they shoot and kill him anyway, leaving his daughter Lenora orphaned without parents. Arvin ends up becoming orphaned as well when Charlotte dies of cancer despite Willard’s efforts, which involve sacrificing Arvin’s dog on a makeshift cross he built in the woods behind his house. Willard commits suicide, and Arvin goes off to live with his grandmother, who also adopted Lenora.
As The Devil all the Time’s story continues to unfold, Arvin finds himself at odds with a narcissistic and manipulative reverend named Preston Teagardin (Robert Pattinson), who impregnates Lenora, leading her to commit suicide.
With an already startling body-count, The Devil all the Time never ceases to let up, and Arvin eventually crosses paths with Carl and Sandy, who plan to lead him to a violent fate similar to Roy’s. But at this point, Arvin knows how to defend himself, and does what he has to do to ensure his safety. Matters get complicated, however, when Arvin discovers that Sandy is related to a corrupt Sheriff named Lee Boedecker, who plans to eliminate Arvin and cover up the incidents so he could be re-elected.
Critics gave The Devil all the Time mixed reviews upon its release. While favorable reviews emphasized both Holland and Pattinson’s performances, the film lost points for exploring incredibly dark territory, and doing so for 138 minutes. But despite the 65 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, audiences saw The Devil all the Time more favorably, giving it an audience score of 79 percent.
The Devil All The Time Is Streaming On Netflix
The Devil all the Time shows us that Tom Holland isn’t a one-trick pony, and is quite capable of delivering a convincing dramatic performance. Though the subject matter will make your stomach turn with a profound sense of unease, the acting is top-notch, and this movie will stick with you for days after watching it.