The new film The Devil All the Time weaves together a tapestry of violence from the lives of lost souls. Set in Meade, Ohio in the wake of World War II, the Netflix drama picks up with a number of wayward characters — fathers, mothers, sons, a few loose cannons, and in some ways God himself — who each hit a turbulent spell and turn to faith, in some form or another, for answers. Based on the celebrated book by Donald Ray Pollock, it’s a grim and evocative watch.
For filmmaker Antonio Campos, it’s also a step up to a larger scale of storytelling. In his previous films Simon Killer and Christine, and even his turn to TV with USA’s The Sinner, Campos drilled down into the psychologies of specific individuals to find what was at their core. The Devil All the Time has him pulling the strings of an ensemble, and one stacked with rising stars like Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Sebastian Stan, and Riley Keough.
Polygon sat down with Campos over Zoom to talk about why he jumped at the chance to adapt the novel, how Pattinson found his voice as a maniacal preacher, and how he landed on soft-spoken narrator for the film — who is played by none other than Pollock himself.
The Devil All the Time feels like a big shift from your previous work. What interested you about this story, and what was your way into it?
Antonio Campos: There were so many images in the book I wanted to bring to screen. The first was the prologue, and figure out how that would look, and create a place that I could walk through. That was the first thing. But it was a big generational story that I was interested in telling, and doing it through the genres of Southern Gothic and noir.