The Devil All the Time review: this Netflix thriller spreads itself too thin

The Devil All the Time review: this Netflix thriller spreads itself too thin

For a while, Antonio Campos’ The Devil All the Time casts an effective spell. Adapted from the book of the same name by Donald Ray Pollock, the film is packed with stars — Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgård, Sebastian Stan, Riley Keough, just to name a few — all playing characters that are larger in life in some way. But the longer the film wears on, the thinner that spell becomes. Pollock’s novel follows disparate characters across two generations of a family. Campos and his brother Paulo Campos, who co-wrote the script, do their best to pack the entire book into 138 minutes, but the sheer amount of compacting that has to happen turns the story into a litany of unfortunate events rather than an American epic. Most of the action is concentrated around Holland, who plays a young man named Arvin Russell. Among the people in his orbit are Lenora (Eliza Scanlen), his step-sister and the daughter of the woman his grandmother wanted his father (Skarsgård) to marry; Carl (Jason Clarke) and Sandy (Keough), a couple who indulge in murdering hitchhikers and taking photos of the gruesome killings; and Pattinson as the less-than-holy Reverend Teagardin. The characters pass in and out of the story. Though Arvin is ostensibly the film’s central character, the action often drifts away from him as the Campos brothers attempt to keep the audience up to date with what everyone’s up to, no matter how far apart they are. The colorful performances help keep the constantly bouncing focus ...
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