Devil All the Time: Antonio Campos Version of Donald Ray Pollock’s Award-Winning Novel

In Knockemstiff, Ohio and its neighboring backwoods, sinister characters — an unholy preacher (Robert Pattinson), twisted couple (Jason Clarke and Riley Keough), and crooked sheriff (Sebastian Stan) — converge around young Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) as he fights the evil forces that threaten him and his family.

Spanning the time between World War II and the Vietnam war, director Antonio Campos’ The Devil All the Time renders a seductive and horrific landscape that pits the just against the corrupted.

Co-starring Bill Skarsgård, Mia Wasikowska, Harry Melling, Haley Bennett, and Pokey LaFarge, this suspenseful tale is adapted from Donald Ray Pollock’s award-winning novel.

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The Devil All The Time: Robert Pattinson as Preston Teagardin. (Glen Wilson/Netflix © 2020)
The Devil All The Time: Robert Pattinson as Preston Teagardin. (Glen Wilson/Netflix © 2020)

Director Campos says that Robert Pattinson delivered some ‘absolutely insane’ takes as travelling preacher Preston Teagardin in his new film, The Devil All The Time.

Pattinson’s character makes a strong impression in the first trailer for the Netflix film that also features Tom Holland, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke and Sebastian Stan, delivering a rousing and sinister sermon.

“There are certain performances where it almost feels like a possession,” Campos told  Vanity Fair  about Pattinson’s part, “and I think this is one of those performances.”

The director says working with the future Batman star was ‘unpredictable’. “He likes to tease you,” Campos adds. “I had a sense of what he was doing and we had talked a lot about the character, but the Teagardin that came out when we started shooting – that was the first time I saw Teagardin.”

“You have to trust the person’s going to do something good and be comfortable letting go of some of your control as a director. That’s very much how I approached Rob. There are takes that are absolutely insane and don’t make it into the movie. Rob would just go.”

He describes Tom Holland’s approach as ‘methodical and thoughtful and sensitive’. The Spider-Man star affects a Southern accent as he fights evil forces that threaten him and his family in the first trailer which you can watch above.

“Excuse me preacher, you got time for a sinner?” the 24-year-old Brit asks during the tense three-minute teaser.

Key art for The Devil All The Time (Netflix)
The Devil All The Time (Netflix)

 

The Midwestern Gothic tale centers on the town of Knockemstiff, Ohio, where Arvin Russell, played by Holland, fights the evil forces that threaten him and his family.

Some sinister characters converge around him, including an unholy preacher (Robert Pattinson), a twisted couple (Jason Clarke and Riley Keough) and a crooked sheriff (Sebastian Stan).

Antonio Campos:

Storytelling is an act of creation. In The Devil All the Time, I wanted to use a narrator to tell the story and build a world in which we gave a voice to the “Creator.” In this case, that was Donald Ray Pollock himself. He knew this place inside and out (Knockemstiff, Ohio is a real place where Don was born and raised), and he’d be able to tell this story with ease and a light touch to accompany all the madness while also being invested in everyone’s fate.

I don’t want to say too much about the story before you watch it. I want the audience to just go along for the ride and have the same surprising experience I had when I first read the book. Rest assured, though, things just have a way of sorting themselves out in Knockemstiff, and even if you don’t get a happy ending, there’s still the potential for a better beginning.

Credits:

Director: Antonio Campos

Writer: Antonio Campos, Paulo Campos

Based on the Novel by Donald Ray Pollock

Producers: Randall Poster, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riva Marker, Max Born

Cast: Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan,

Haley Bennett, Harry Melling, Eliza Scanlen, Pokey LaFarge with Mia Wasikowska and Robert Pattinson