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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Families love and care for each other in different ways, pass down values and traditions from generation to generation -- for better and for worse. Religious faith can help people through hard times, though film suggests it can also breed superstitious behavior, belief in false prophets, terrible choices, and actions with sometimes fatal consequences.
Positive Role Models
Arvin's grandparents provide a loving home when his parents die and do the same for an orphaned girl. Arvin's deep need to protect his stepsister leads him to extreme violence, just as his father had taught him to do when the father beat up men who had threatened his wife. A man and a woman lure innocent hitchhikers into their car to kill them, but the woman seems to feel increasingly guilty about their crimes. Politicians and priests are depicted as corrupt in different ways.
Violence & Scariness
Extreme violence throughout includes war scenes, two suicides, more than a dozen people killed in variety of ways shown in graphic detail (mostly shooting and stabbing). Characters maim or kill for different reasons: out of a misguided religious faith (as a sacrifice, or to attempt a resurrection), to teach their kids a lesson, to protect or avenge loved ones, as self-defense, for personal pleasure, or to avoid being exposed as corrupt. Two serial killers lure in young men with sex, then photograph them dead or dying. A man kills a dog as a sacrifice to God to save his dying wife.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A local bar has sex workers. A teen boy and girl are fooling around in a school bus; he's about to take off his pants before they're interrupted. Teen boys chase and tease a female classmate, talking about "hard-ons." A woman pleasures a man in his car so that he ejaculates into a cup. A priest convinces teenage girls to take off their clothes, engage in sexual acts with him, which we see from inside or outside his car (undressing and positions suggested) or from outside his window (a woman performing oral sex). A man who has watched the priest describes the acts in detail. A man and woman lure young hitchhikers to have sex with the woman (the man commands one to "f--k" his wife) so that the man can photograph and kill them; we see these acts in a detailed series of underexposed photos that show some sexual positions and nudity.
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"S--t," "f--k," "bulls--t," "ass," "godforsaken," "hell," "sons of bitches," "goddamnit," "pimping," "whore."
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Products & Purchases
Some car makes. Actual town names in West Virginia and Ohio. Soundtrack.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A soldier drinks to celebrate coming home from war. The same man later drinks by himself at a bar as his wife dies of cancer. People discuss a man who "got sober" and another who is a "drunk." A serial killing couple drink liquor straight from a bottle with one of their victims.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Devil All the Time is an extremely graphic film with disturbing scenes of violence and sex. It offers a largely negative portrayal of religious faith, including a priest who convinces devout teenage girls to have sex with him, a proselytizer who stabs his wife because he thinks he can resurrect her, and a man who kills a dog as a sacrifice to God to save his dying wife. Adapted from a novel, the film depicts rural areas in the 1950s and 1960s as dens of poverty, depravity, corruption, and ignorance. There are war scenes, two suicides, and more than a dozen people killed in a variety of ways shown in graphic detail. Characters maim or kill to teach their kids a lesson, to protect or avenge loved ones, as self-defense, for personal pleasure, or to avoid being exposed as corrupt. A man and a woman are serial killers who lure young men in with sex and then photograph them dead or dying. A series of underexposed photos show the woman in various positions with her victims. Other sex scenes are less graphic in terms of what's shown on-screen, but not in terms of what we understand to be happening, including a woman pleasuring a man in a car, another performing oral sex on the priest, a bar that has rooms in the back with sex workers, two teens about to have sex on a school bus, and teen boys chasing a girl and talking about "hard-ons." Language includes various forms of "s--t" and "f--k" as well as "ass," "hell," "bitch," "damn," "pimp," and "whore." There's also some drinking. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
As much as you want to be repelled by the depraved characters and relentless violence, this film manages to keep you curious. Maybe more impressively, The Devil All the Time makes you care for some of the broken souls inhabiting its two map-speck towns. This is no easy feat. The well-known international cast pulls off playing evil while hinting at the weaknesses and trauma fueling their characters' actions, forcing you to grapple with comprehending characters even as they make appalling, morally questionable choices. At well over two hours long, the film could have done this even better by cutting out a couple of the less-developed stories -- for example, the corrupt sheriff's dealings with a mistress and local crime bosses.
Director Antonio Campos seems fascinated by the darkest side of human nature, but he has set the film to a blend of period gospel, folk, country, and other music that keeps the mood from feeling as miserable as the stories warrant. Adapted from the novel (often labeled "hillbilly gothic") by Donald Ray Pollock, who narrates the film, Devil is set in the gloomy borderlands between West Virginia and Ohio between 1957 and 1965. This location and between-war period is characterized in the film by financial and spiritual poverty. Still, there are no easy moral lessons here, no heroes, and few characters or themes painted in black and white. It won't be for everyone, but given a chance, Devil could surprise more than a few initially reluctant viewers.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.