Antonio Campos must be a misanthrope. His films are dark, often disturbing, but none have yet been so intense as his new film The Devil All the Time. This movie is a series of long strides in a pit of thigh-deep mud. It felt twice as long as its actual runtime of 2 hours and 18 minutes, but I defy you to take your eyes off the screen.
The performances are massive– certainly some of the best of 2020– but the script is definitely lacking. The story is a literary triumph, but novels don’t suffer the same rigidity films do to make sense. The best I can do to describe the screenplay is if a script-supervisor from a Quentin Tarantino set and a Coen brothers’ set bumped into each other in the hallway and they mixed up their papers. Who knew it would make a killer story? It is unfortunate that several of the more interesting lines of plot amount to nearly nothing. However, Arvin is a wonderful character and the way his arc resolved was more than satisfactory.
If you ever cared to doubt it, Tom Holland has chops. He and Robert Pattinson in the same room are sure to make your hairs stand on end. The moments where they are together make for some of the most intense scenes, and coincidentally offer the most relief.
There is nothing particularly beautiful about the way this movie was shot, and feels a tad derivative at times, but it is enough to make several moments memorable. The cinematography of Lol Crawley’s past doesn’t have much novelty to offer either.
The music is not very far short of perfect. Even the original suite is very arresting.
Despite the many drawbacks of the storytelling, this movie is very much worth a watch. The performances from Holland, Scanlen and Pattison alone are enough to justify this movie’s existence. If you have the stomach for the gore and general intensity, I recommend you see it. I give Antonio Campos’ The Devil All the Time a three out of five.