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First Look: The Devil All the Time

Its cast may include Spider-Man, Batman and Pennywise the Dancing Clown, Captain America’s pal the Winter Soldier, the grown-up John Connors from The Terminator and even Alice of Alice in Wonderland fame – but The Devil All the Time is no spectacular comic book/sci-fi/fantasy movie mash-up. It is, instead, a very down-to-earth-looking crime drama film. Albeit one with one helluva cast.

Netflix’s brand new psychological thriller is based on the 2011 debut novel by acclaimed American writer Donald Ray Pollock. The book of the same name won a good number of respected literary prizes after its release nine years ago and was praised in all corners, its author gaining comparisons to the likes of the great William Faulker and the master of Southern Gothic himself, Cormac McCarthy – the man behind such classic American novels and movies as No Country for Old Men.

The action takes place in the backwaters of the evocatively-named community of Knockemstiff, Ohio. The impressive cast, as we’ve already hinted at, includes the likes of Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Bill Skarsgård, Sebastian Stan, Mia Wasikowska, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough, Harry Melling, Haley Bennett and Pokey Lafarge. They play a rag-tag ensemble of characters that converge in what becomes a real struggle between right and wrong.

Set between the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the Vietnam War, The Devil All the Time sees Marvel’s famous web-slinger Holland play the lead role of young Arvin Russell. He’s an idealistic kid who decides he has to be the one to stand up to a cavalcade of sinister and weird characters in his hometown in order to protect the people he cares about most.

Have a look at the film’s official trailer for more of a flavour of things to come:

From what we know of the dryly funny but violent novel and the trailer, it looks as though we can expect the following storyline:

Holland’s Arvin Russell is a teenage orphan. As he hits manhood, his adoptive parents bequeath him his late father’s gun. At the same time, a cast of curious and nefarious chancers, grifters and criminals begin to circle him and his family. Arvin decides to invoke his father’s spirit and prove his burgeoning masculinity. Presumably by using his new gift…

‘I was really eager to work with the director Antonio Campos because his previous films that I’ve seen are very raw,’ Holland told Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview. ‘I guess it was the challenge of doing a different accent, playing the rural kid, a period film, a new director. Everything ticked the boxes for me.’

The director co-wrote the adapted screenplay with his brother Paulo and, clocking in at a leisurely 138 minutes, it looks like we’re set to be treated to as much of the book as Campos could manage to fit in, as he explained in his interview:

‘It was a hard book to adapt also because there was so much that we loved. I’m a big fan of southern gothic and noir and this was a perfect marriage of the two. Sometimes you might be adapting a piece and you think like, Well, there is a seed of a good idea here and I’ll just throw everything away and start from scratch. In this case it was like, we love everything!’

How will this incredible cast converge to tell such a compelling story? And will the movie do justice to the much-loved source material? We haven’t got long to find out.

The Devil All The Time arrives on Netflix in the UK on Wednesday 16 September.

The Devil All the Time

Donald Ray Pollock

The Devil All the Time

Donald Ray Pollock

Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

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