‘Devil All the Time’ review: Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson give Netflix hell

Well, the title doesn’t lie.

The new Netflix movie “The Devil All the Time” gives us nonstop Satanic behavior from start to finish. When its characters aren’t committing acts of moral depravity, they’re the bloody victims of them. Their blighted lives, which we get a decadelong window into, are pits of fiery torment. Nobody sits down for a nice piece of pie or small talk. Laughter, like dancing in “Footloose,” seems forbidden.

And yet, although the film can be a tad unrelenting, it’s highly watchable.

What saves director/co-writer Antonio Campos’ movie from becoming torture porn is the psychological detail involved. In one early scene, a young boy witnesses his father (Bill Skarsgård) sacrifice their dog on a cross to God to save his wife from cancer. Don’t you want to see how screwed up that traumatized kid will grow up to be?

You’re in luck.

We follow little Arvin (Michael Banks Repeta) through his life out in the Styx, er, sticks, and so, too, does an unseemly band of ne’er do wells. Calling West Virginia and Ohio home, they kill and defile innocents for a bunch of demented reasons.

A fire-and-brimstone preacher (Harry Melling) stabs his wife in the neck with a screwdriver to prove he can resurrect her. (He cannot.) A perv husband and his wife drive around looking for guys who’ll hop in the sack with the woman while the hubby takes photos — and then murders them. Another preacher (Robert Pattinson, understanding his assignment) speaks the word of God, and then, after mass, has his way with young female parishioners. The day after the deed, he tells the girls they misremembered what happened.

Tom Holland plays an adult Arvin in Netflix’s “The Devil All the Time.”Glen Wilson/Netflix

Arvin grows up (Tom Holland) afflicted by the violence in his life — his deeply religious father’s and mother’s untimely ends, the shame put upon his stepsister — and wants to protect the family members who took him in. Triggered, he turns to triggers.

A lot of recognizably American elements come together here at once: the Southern Gothic quality of a William Faulkner novel, the backwoods lawlessness of “Deliverance,” the religious fervor of “The Exorcist.” The mix isn’t lumpy, but it lacks distinction. Quentin Tarantino’s movies are more violent, for example, and often have even less meaning, but there is always a potent point of view. Here, not so much.

The main virtues of “Devil” are its actors.

Holland, who has been so refreshing as Spider-Man, gets his first opportunity to prove he can act without the help of $150 million of webs and whistles. He can. The actor’s youthful innocence helps to dull some of the brutality of the script, and he handles the drama well. Skarsgård, on the other hand, does far less acting than we’ve ever seen him do as Pennywise, the clown in “It.” He has a raw intensity and doesn’t need a Bozo wig to sell it.

This movie hasn’t got much to say — OK, nothing — but you can make a decent drinking game out of taking a shot every time someone does something hypocritical. Better yet, make it moonshine!

Robert Pattinson is a preacher preying on girls in “The Devil All the Time.”Glen Wilson/Netflix