Movie Review | The Devil All the Time
Not so devilish...
Movie summary: Sinister characters converge around a young man devoted to protecting those he loves in a post-war backwoods town teeming with corruption and brutality. (IMDb)
Another day, another movie based on a novel - and people say there are too many comic book adaptations. I don't really know why The Devil All The Time was made either, because it doesn't seem to have a story to tell other than 'life can be very hard for some'. To be fair, that's undeniably true, but you do need to make things a bit more interesting than that to work as a story.
The movie moves from sequence to sequence, character to character, and moment to moment without any rhyme or reason. There are links between them all that at least coalesce in a relatively pleasing manner by the end - I was worried that this wasn't going to happen for a long time - but they're so separated for so long that it doesn't have the kind of impact the movie is clearly going for.
Structurally, it doesn't work, although it doesn't help that neither the individual story threads nor the characters are particularly interesting in the first place. It's not that any of them are bad either, but they all feel like well-worn ground that doesn't offer anything any movie-goer or TV watcher won't have seen countless times before.
I would love to be able to say that the performances are good, but the characters are all so mundane that it's hard to tell how good the quality of the acting is - apart from Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson's accents not staying consistent. Apologies to my fellow Brits, but their voices are the weak spots when it comes to the acting side of things, although I guess that does show how good their performances are otherwise.
I really don't want to sound too negative about The Devil All The Time as there isn't really anything to criticise, but neither is there anything to truly praise. It just... exists. It's fine. I didn't feel that I'd wasted my time, but neither did I think that it had been a good use of time. It was a really weird experience watching it and thinking 'none of this is bad, so why don't I like it more?', but that's how it went.
The biggest criticism I could offer is that there were a few moments that I became so disinterested that I tuned the movie out and had to use Netflix's handy control to jump back 10 seconds because I realised I'd missed a line or two. It had all blurred into a bland, beige blend of banality that is so difficult to work up any kind of enthusiasm for whether to love or hate it that I'm resorting to forced alliteration in a review to amuse myself!
I don't really like scoring systems and have always made it clear that the number I leave at the bottom of each review is effectively just short-hand to be checked against the scoring guide I link to every review post, but The Devil All The Time is the most 5/10 movie I can recall seeing in a long, long time. It's so very, very average that I can't work up the energy to even criticise it for that.
The Devil All the Time was a real non-event and just seems to exist rather than being appreciably good or bad to any extent. It looks really good and the performances are all perfectly fine, but the story meanders back and forth so much that it just doesn't hold your attention, while giving the audience no real reason to care about the characters.