Based on the novel by Donald Ray Pollock, The Devil All The Time is an ambitious, 138-minute feature that follows three different storylines all packed tight with religious fright. If you’re against organized religion, this film will probably reaffirm your disdain. It features an all-star cast that are all thieves of the spotlight. Each and every one shines bright when on screen. No one falls flat. The performances are incredible and without them, this film would be nothing but a beautifully painted empty cardboard box. Most impressive are Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Robert Pattinson, and Harry Melling.
Spider-Man, Pennywise, Edward Cullen, and Dudley Dursley have all left the building.
Although not a bad film by any means, The Devil All The Time never gets the chance to properly take off. The biggest issue is that it’s actually too short. Two hours and eighteen minutes is a long runtime but for the story that it’s telling, it’s not long enough. It either needs to be longer or turned into a miniseries. If it had perhaps been spread out into four hour-long episodes, The Devil All The Time could’ve been something magnificent. There are too many characters and too many subplots. Its a bit too much crammed into a small space. Don’t let the length fool you, it is a very small space.
Also, there’s a narrator which I absolutely HATE! The narrator is the author himself, literally, who is only there to simplify the plot in an audiobook-like fashion. I really hate it.
The whole first act is essentially just a prologue. This part of the book is titled, “Sacrifice.” Take that as you will. It runs for a whole 41 minutes before the main character, Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) is finally put in the driver’s seat. Everything up to that point is backstory. The film starts in 1945, with WWII veteran Willard Russell (Bill Skarsgard) home from the war but haunted by the horrors he witnessed. He lives tormented by his own struggling faith until he falls in love with a good-natured waitress named Charlotte (Hayley Bennett) and has a son, Arvin.
Meanwhile, we’re also introduced to Helen (Mia Wasikowska), a woman whom Willard’s mother had hoped he would marry before he met Charlotte. Instead, she marries the terrifying, deranged, and overtly righteous preacher Roy Laferty (Harry Melling). They have a daughter named Lenora, whose fate becomes intertwined with Arvin’s when both their parents suffer tragic ends. They are left as orphans and together go to live with Arvin’s grandmother, where they grow up as siblings.
The past comes back to haunt
Just the way the first half feels like a prologue, a lot of the second half feels like an epilogue. There is a brief section in the middle that feels like it might be the centerpiece but it’s fleeting and comes off as nothing but a dolly used to carry the film’s baggage over into the next scene.
Jumping ahead to 1965, Arvin and Lenora (Eliza Scanlen), now about 15, are still coping with the loss of their parents. After seeing his father’s mental deterioration in front of a cross, Arvin has lost faith in any sort of higher power. While Lenora puts her loss into her faith. I won’t say what happens after that but just know that it’s a slow burn of events that ends with Arvin going on an unintentional murder spree.
Everything about the film is part of a plot. Nothing is filler, which sometimes a movie needs to give it life. The Devil All The Time seems reluctant to admit that the past and present should be their own separate stories. It attempts to weave them together as if they’re one and the same, giving no room for breathing. Which is ironic because it’s also incredibly slow. One major flaw is the subplot involving a sheriff played by Sebastian Stan and a serial killer couple played by Jason Clarke and Riley Keonugh. They feel completely out of place and are really only there to enforce the third act, and it’s clear that this is because the film just couldn’t fit them in. It’s a shame too. If given more focus, this would have been a much more disturbing film. However, Stan does have the best line: “Some people were born just so they could be buried.” Make that the tagline.
The Devil All The Time is too slow to be exciting and too brutal to be relaxing but it has its moments. There’s a large overreaching theme about testing your faith. Not necessarily religious, but faith in anything; in one’s self, in others, in family members. Everyone in the film is looking for a way to see God and some are so desperate for it, that they invertedly turn into sinners. Everyone descends into darkness and everyone is connected.
Despite my complaints, I honestly did enjoy this film. There are some blood splatters here and there and one momentarily disturbing image of a crucified dog, but other than that. this is not a typical horror film. Any horror that takes place is all internal. The setting is quaint, beautiful, but it’s the human characters that strike fear in the heart.(3.5 / 5)
All photos owned by Netflix, Nine Moving Productions and Bronx Moving Company.
The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine Special Live Watch Party February 10th!
The sweet putrid stench of love lingers through the air which can only mean one thing…Valentine’s Day and its annoying little winged cherub mascot, Cupid, is fast approaching. Soon, partners will be spoiling one another with extravagant bouquets of roses, heartfelt Hallmark cards, obnoxiously large teddy bears, glistening diamond jewelry, and heart-shaped candies or boxes filled with assorted mediocre chocolates. You know? Normal things couples do. I tend to prefer my chocolate boxes filled with bleeding hearts, à la ‘My Bloody Valentine’ but, beggars can’t be choosers, right? All jokes aside, Valentine’s Day is special for many couples, however, there are also many others who find themselves celebrating this day without a significant other. Luckily, Shudder, along with drive-in king Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) will graciously be keeping us lonely mutants’, and yes, all you horror fanatic couples’ company on Friday, February 10th as they return with The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine, premiering live at 9pm EST.
Love Spells Abound…
Back in 2021, Joe Bob and Darcy invited us to a gruesomely passionate night of spell-binding love witches and animatronic dinosaurs infused with teenage human brains during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You. Many, including myself, were introduced to the tantalizing 70’s inspired retro throwback ‘The Love Witch’ and the graphically goofy cult classic ‘Tammy and the T-Rex’, providing the perfect viewing pleasure to mend any broken heart. While the two films for this year’s morbid love-induced special have yet to be announced, as a special treat, Briggs has announced for the first time on The Last Drive-In, he will be marrying one lucky couple during the live showing. We here at HauntedMTL are eagerly awaiting the return of the ghoulish duo so, as is tradition, we will be proudly hosting a watch party on Twitter during the broadcasting of The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and tag us @hauntedMTL as well as @shudder, @therealjoebob, and @kinky_horror to partake in this night of unholy love.
What started off as a one-time special premiering on Shudder July 13, 2018, ‘The Last Drive- In’ was originally meant to be Brigg’s swan song; one last special before hanging up the bolo tie in retirement. However, due to so many mutants, excuse me…viewers tuning in and breaking the Shudder servers, it was only natural to announce an official full season of ‘The Last Drive-In‘, which would make its explosive debut March 19, 2019. Since then, Darcy and Briggs have spawned many exclusive holiday specials, have graciously donated to many charities within the community, and have accumulated 4 seasons of ‘The Last Drive-In’, with a fifth currently in production premiering on Shudder’s 2023 schedule sometime this year, let’s hope sooner rather than later.
Horror Noire, a Film Review
Horror Noire is a horror collection that includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.”
Horror Noire is a horror collection brought by the combined efforts of AMC+ and Shudder. The collection includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.” Horror Noire boasts Black directors and screenwriters, providing six unique stories.
As this collection explores six stories, I will skip the usual synopsis to assess the genres and ideas explored, albeit limited as needed. Expect to find supernatural horror, creature features, and psychological thrillers. Many short films deal with these genres while exploring Black issues, but this isn’t universal for the collection.
The directors and writers include Zandashé Brown, Robin Givens, Rob Greenlea, Kimani Ray Smith, Steven Barnes, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Tananarive Due, Shernold Edwards, Victor LaValle, and Al Letson.
What I Like
Each story remains unique, holding different strengths and weaknesses that highlight drastically different perspectives. Collections like VHS hold a similar premise to create their collection, but Horror Noire gives more creative freedom to its talent to be independent.
My personal favorite short film is Zandashé Brown’s “Bride Before You.” This period piece unravels a fable set in the Reconstruction Era. The entry feels Fabulistic in approach, which happens to be my preferred niche.
However, the best example of horror goes to Robin Givens’ “Daddy,” providing an existential horror tied directly to the characters involved.
What I Dislike
As mentioned, all have a particular style and idea. The downside of this approach always remains to keep the viewer interested long enough to find their favorite. If you find several underwhelming choices, this becomes a chore. But I imagine that is rare as the variety makes the options refreshing.
Personally, “Brand of Evil” had an interesting premise, but the execution fell short. On paper, it might have sounded like my favorite, which makes the lackluster execution a bigger letdown.
Horror Noire gives power and control to Black creators, providing a formula for a unique collection against others in the space. While the various subjects and approaches mean you aren’t likely to love them all, there should be a short film for everyone.
(3.5 / 5)
Episode six of Netflix’s Dahmer was not, honestly about our title character. Instead, it was about one of his victims, a man named Tony. We’ve actually seen Tony a few times during this series. We just didn’t know it was him.
And, well, he wasn’t exactly alive the first time we saw him.
Tony was born into a supportive, loving family. This is good because soon after he was born a viral infection took his hearing. He is black, deaf, and gay in the early 90’s.
Tony has a dream of becoming a model. And he certainly has the looks for it. He is beautiful, body and soul. He has lots of opportunities for romance, but it’s not what he’s looking for. He wants a real relationship.
Eventually Tony moves to Madison, trying to pursue his dream. He gets a job and starts getting modeling work.
Then, he meets Jeff Dahmer at a bar.
At first, we can almost believe that it’s going to be alright. Jeff seems happy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s not drinking as much. He even has his dad and stepmom over for dinner. It seems like his life is getting on track. Even better, he’s treating Tony right.
Then, of course, things go bad.
One thing that has always bothered me as a true crime fan is that we know so much about the killers, but not as much about the victims. Not so much if we don’t know who the killer is, of course. But the names that are part of our pop culture are those of the killers. Dahmer, Manson, Jones, Bundy, Holms. The names we don’t know are Roberta Parks, Beth LaBiancas, Leno LaBiancas, and Tony Hughes. And clearly, we should know them.
If Tony Hughes was half the shining, positive person that the show Dahmer made him out to be, I’m so sad that he isn’t with us anymore. We need so many more people like him. And many of Dahmer’s victims were likely just like him. After all, he was attracted to them for a reason.
This was a significant episode, and I understand why it’s the highest-rated episode of the series. I finished it with a heavy heart, saddened by the loss of a man who should still be with us today.(5 / 5)