The Devil All the Time (film)

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The Devil All the Time
The Devil All The Time.jpeg
Official release poster
Directed byAntonio Campos
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Antonio Campos
  • Paulo Campos
Based onThe Devil All the Time
by Donald Ray Pollock
Narrated byDonald Ray Pollock
Music by
  • Danny Bensi
  • Saunder Jurriaans
CinematographyLol Crawley
Edited bySofía Subercaseaux
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • September 11, 2020 (2020-09-11) (United States)
Running time
138 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Devil All the Time is a 2020 American film directed by Antonio Campos from a screen play that he co-written with his brother Paulo Campos. It is based on the novel of the same name by Donald Ray Pollock, who also narrates the film. The film's ensemble cast includes Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan, Haley Bennett, Eliza Scanlen, Mia Wasikowska and Robert Pattinson. The film follows an interwoven series of events in rural small-town America where characters deal with religion, violence and corruption.

The Devil All the Time was released in select theaters on September 11, 2020, and was released digitally on Netflix on September 16, 2020. The film received mixed reviews from critics.


In 1945, while serving in the Solomon Islands during the Second World War, U.S. Marine Willard Russell comes up the still-breathing body of Gunnery Sergeant Miller Jones, who was scalped, skinned, and crucified by the Japanese. Willard ends Jones' agony by shooting him in the head.

After the war, Willard returns home to Coal Creek. On the way, he stops in Meade, Ohio where he meets Charlotte Russell, who is a waitress at a diner and falls in love with her. Carl Henderson, an unemployed photographer, meets his future wife Sandy who was also working at the same diner as Charlotte. Willard marries Charlotte and moves to Knockemstiff, Ohio, where they have a son, Arvin. Carl marries Sandy.

In 1950 Coal Creek, Helen Hatton, a woman who lost her family in a fire, goes to live with Willard's mother, Emma. A newcomer, Roy Laferty, who is a disturbingly charismatic evangelical, visits the Coal Creek Church to deliver a sermon. In a frenzy, he pours real spiders over his head and on his face to show his belief in God and whip up energy in the congregation. Helen and Roy marry and have a baby girl, Lenora.

During a subsequent sermon, Roy is bitten by a spider and suffers from the bite's venom which affects his sanity. He hallucinates and believes that he has the power to bring people back from the dead. He decides to demonstrate his new power, a demonstration of his faith in god, by killing and resurrecting Helen. He takes Helen on an outing into the woods and stabs her to death with a sharpened screwdriver. He tries his resurrection trick, but it just doesn't work out; he is unable to raise her from the dead. Stricken and realizing his mistake, Roy decides to go back to get Lenora, who is currently staying with Emma and Earskell, Willard's uncle.

Roy hitchhikes and gets picked up by Carl and Sandy. Carl encourages Roy to have sex with Sandy so he can take pictures of them while doing it. This is foreplay to Carl's ritual fantasy-driven sexual compulsion leading up to murdering Roy. This murder ritual is repeated by Carl and Sandy throughout the story. They are husband and wife serial killers who take pictures of their male victims, who they pick up as hitchhikers, before murdering them to satisfy Carl's sexual compulsion. The only pleasure in life that Carl gets is from killing in this way.

Lee Bodecker is the sheriff and the brother of Sandy. Lee is corrupt and looking to be reelected, so he turns a blind eye although he thinks that Sandy and her husband are up to something suspicious.

In 1957 Knockemstiff, Willard builds a "prayer clearing" with a cross in the woods behind his house. He frequently prays there, perhaps compelled by his memory of Miller. Despite this newfound faith, Willard teaches Arvin, now nine years old, to respond to violence against him with more violence against his aggressors. When Charlotte is diagnosed with cancer, Willard returns strongly to Christianity becoming obsessed with praying for her health and forces Arvin to pray also kneeling in the "prayer clearing" before the cross. As his wife is dying of cancer, Willard loses touch with reality and thinks that animal sacrifice will save her. He kills Arvin’s beloved dog Jack, skins him, and hangs the dog's body on the cross. Charlotte eventually dies from cancer. Willard, in his grief, commits suicide. Sheriff Lee Bodecker comes to the scene of Willard's suicide. Arvin, now an orphan, is taken by Lee to Coal Creek to live with his grandmother Emma, great-uncle Earskell, and Lenora, who has been "adopted" by Emma. Lenora becomes his "step-sister".

In 1965, on Arvin's 18th birthday, Great Uncle Earskell gives Arvin the luger that Arvin's father brought back from the war. At church, there is a new preacher, Reverend Preston Teagardin. At the church's welcome potluck dinner, Preston embarrasses Emma by insulting her fried chicken liver contribution. This unnecessary cruel act by the preacher raises suspicions in Arvin. A few days later, Arvin violently beats a group of bullies who had been picking on Lenora. Lenora is seduced by Preston and he forces her to have sex with him. Subsequently, Lenora seeing that she is pregnant, tells Preston. Preston denies it could have happened and infers that she should have an abortion. Not wanting to bring shame to the family, Lenora decides to hang herself in the family barn. While standing on a box with the rope around her neck, she realizes she and her baby would be "all right" after all, changes her mind. While trying to remove the rope, she accidentally slips, falls, and strangles. Her body is found by Arvin who attempts to help her, but she is gone.

After Lenora's autopsy is performed, Arvin is told that she was pregnant. He suspects that Preston was the father. He stealthily follows Preston and sees him seduce and rape another girl. After giving a goodbye to Emma and Earskell, Arvin confronts Preston at the church and kills him with the luger. He flees town. Before leaving the area, he wants to give his dog Jack a proper burial, so Arvin begins traveling to Knockenstiff. His pickup truck breaks down and he begins to hitchhike. He is picked up by Carl and Sandy. Carl starts his depraved ritual that will led up to murder. When Arvin sees Carl holding a gun, he realizes Carl's intention, understands that his life is in danger. Using the luger, he preemptively kills Carl and subsequently kills Sandy to defend himself. He looks through the car and finds a photo of Sandy and an obviously murdered corpse In flagrante delicto) along with several rolls of film. Arvin continues his journey to Knockemstiff.

Lee, the Sheriff, learns of Preston's, Sandy's, and Carl's deaths. He is certain that Arvin is the prime suspect for Preston's murder. Being concerned about what Carl and Sandy were up to, he goes to their apartment and finds Carl's darkroom and extensive photo collection of Carl's serial killings from over the many years. As Lee does not want to risk having his image harmed, he burns the evidence. He then and sets out to apprehend Arvin.

Arvin reaches Knockemstiff and goes to the "prayer clearing" so he can bury the bones of his dog Jack. Lee shows up, walks up through the woods carrying a shotgun and calling out. They confront each other at the "prayer clearing", Lee with a shotgun and Arvin with the luger. Shots are exchanged and Arvin manages to mortally wound Lee. Before Lee dies, Arvin confronts Lee with the picture of Sandy which he found in Carl's car. Lee dies. Arvin leaves the photo and the several rolls of film so some evidence of Carl's serial killing spree can be revealed. He then buries Jack's bones and the luger under the log in the "prayer clearing".

Arvin leaves Knockemstiff. He begins hitchhiking and is picked up by a hippie heading to Cincinnati. During the drive, Arvin is very tired and tries hard not to fall asleep as he is in a car with a stranger. He daydreams about his childhood, he contemplated his future as possibly a husband or as a soldier in the Vietnam War, much like his father was.


  • Donald Ray Pollock as The Narrator
  • Tom Holland as Arvin Eugene Russell, Willard and Charlotte’s son
    • Michael Banks Repeta as 9-year-old Arvin Russell
  • Bill Skarsgård as Willard Russell, Arvin’s father, Charlotte’s husband, and Emma's son
  • Robert Pattinson as Reverend Preston Teagardin
  • Riley Keough as Sandy Henderson,[1] Carl’s wife and Lee's younger sister.
  • Jason Clarke as Carl Henderson,[1] Sandy’s husband
  • Sebastian Stan as Sheriff Lee Bodecker, Sandy's older brother
  • Eliza Scanlen as Lenora Laferty, Arvin’s adopted sister and Roy and Helen's daughter who was adopted by Emma
    • Ever Eloise Landrum as Young Lenora Laferty
  • Haley Bennett as Charlotte Russell,[1] Arvin’s mother and Willard’s wife
  • Mia Wasikowska as Helen Hatton Laferty, Lenora's mother
  • Harry Melling as Roy Laferty, Lenora’s father
  • Pokey LaFarge as Theodore, Roy's cousin
  • Douglas Hodge as Leroy Brown
  • Kristin Griffith as Emma Russell, Arvin's grandmother, Willard's mother, and Lenora's adoptive mother
  • David Atkinson as Earskell, Arvin's great uncle and Emma's brother
  • Drew Starkey as Tommy Matson, one of Lenora's bullies


The film was announced in September 2018, with Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Chris Evans and Mia Wasikowska in talks to star. Antonio Campos would write and direct the film, with Jake Gyllenhaal serving as producer. In January 2019, Bill Skarsgård and Eliza Scanlen joined the cast, with Netflix set to distribute the film.[2][3] Sebastian Stan was cast to replace Evans after scheduling conflicts caused him to drop out and personally recommended Stan to be in his role.[4] Additionally, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough and Haley Bennett were announced as part of the cast.[5] In March 2019, Harry Melling joined the cast of the film.[6] Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans composed the film's score.[7]

Principal photography began on February 19, 2019, in Alabama, with filming locations including Blount County, Alabama, Anniston, Deatsville, Pell City, Birmingham, and Montevallo.[8][9] Filming completed on April 15, 2019.[10][11]


The film was released in select theaters on September 11, 2020,[12][13][14] and was released digitally on Netflix on September 16, 2020.[15]


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 66% based on 119 reviews, with an average rating of 6.31/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "The Devil All the Time's descent into darkness can be harrowing to the point of punishment, but it's offset by strong work from a stellar cast."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 55 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17]

The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips wrote: "It's easy on the eyes, though, and it's worth seeing for an intriguingly cast ensemble, authenticating the milieu as much as possible. Holland's terrific, taking in each new setback in [his character's] life without revealing the full extent of the damage."[18]

Ryan Lattanzio of IndieWire gave the film a "C–" called it "colossal misfire, a sweaty mess from start to finish", although he praised Holland and Pattinson's performances.[19] Owen Gleiberman of Variety said that "it's hard to imagine how a movie with this much sordid crime and violence could be this rote" and wrote "The Devil All the Time shows us a lot of bad behavior, but the movie isn't really interested in what makes the sinners tick. And without that lurid curiosity, it's just a series of Sunday School lessons: a noir that wants to scrub away the darkness."[20]


  1. ^ a b c De la Paz, Maggie (February 21, 2019). "Netflix's The Devil All the Time Adds Bennett, Clarke, & Keough". Archived from the original on May 6, 2019.
  2. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 16, 2019). "'It' Star Bill Skarsgard and 'Sharp Objects' Actress Eliza Scanlen Join Netflix's 'The Devil All The Time'". Variety. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  3. ^ Keene, Allison (January 16, 2019). "Chris Evans, Tom Holland Lead A-List Cast for Netflix Film 'The Devil All the Time'".
  4. ^ Jr, Mike Fleming; Jr, Mike Fleming (February 14, 2019). "Sebastian Stan Replacing Chris Evans In Netflix Film 'The Devil All The Time'".
  5. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (February 19, 2019). "Haley Bennett, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough Join 'The Devil All The Time' At Netflix". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  6. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (March 4, 2019). "Netflix's Starry Pic 'The Devil All The Time' Adds 'Buster Scruggs' Star Harry Melling, Shoot Underway". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  7. ^ "Danny Bensi & Saunder Jurriaans to Score Antonio Campos's 'The Devil All The Time'". FilmMusicReporter. November 20, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  8. ^ "Make a Deal With 'The Devil All the Time'". Backstage.
  9. ^ "Locations". latlong.
  10. ^ Casting, Project (February 8, 2019). "Tom Holland's 'The Devil All The Time' is Now Casting!".
  11. ^ "Filming for the multi-million $$ @netflix film, "The Devil All the Time" happening in Bham today (Highland Park). Crew member says they're shooting the whole movie in AL & will wrap up April 15. The story is based on a book by David Ray Pollock & takes place in Ohio and West VA". Twitter. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  12. ^ "FilmInfo".
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Cleveland Cinemas | The Devil All the Time".
  15. ^ Collis, Clark (July 17, 2020). "Tom Holland-starring Southern Gothic saga The Devil All the Time to premiere on Netflix in September". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  16. ^ "The Devil All the Time (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  17. ^ "The Devil All the Time Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  18. ^ Phillips, Michael (September 11, 2020). "'Devil All the Time' review: Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson wrestle with their sins in a bloody Southern Gothic". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  19. ^ Lattanzio, Ryan (September 11, 2020). "'The Devil All the Time' Review: Netflix and Antonio Campos' Bloated Gothic Profoundly Fails a Terrific Cast". IndieWire. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  20. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (September 11, 2020). "'The Devil All the Time' Review: Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson in a Netflix Drama of Small-Town Sin". Variety. Retrieved September 11, 2020.

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