Last week, Netflix released its original film "The Devil All the Time," based on the 2011 novel of the same name. Directed by Antonio Campos, the film boasts an all-star cast including Bill Skarsgard, Robert Pattinson, Riley Keough, and Tom Holland.
In it, we follow the dynasties of several families in rural mid-century America and how power, grief, and revenge control their lives.
This article will delve into the events and motifs that occur in threes. If you haven't seen the movie, stop reading here!
From the onset of the film, we know it deals heavily in Christianity and so does its characters. The film uses the Holy Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit— heavily throughout its runtime.
1. Three rural towns
"The Devil All the Time" introduces us to three small towns where the bulk of the plot takes place. We start off in Meade, Ohio where two of the main couples, Willard and Charlotte and Carl and Sandy, spark their doomed relationships. Upon marrying Charlotte, Willard settles his family in Knockemstiff, Ohio, where they live peacefully until Charlotte's untimely death.
After his parents' deaths, a young Arvin is sent to live with his paternal grandparents in Coal Creek, West Virginia. While the plot moves around the events in these three towns, it mainly focuses on Arvin's life in Coal Creek, but the story finally takes us back to Knockemstiff where the three main plotlines collide in a bloody ending.
2. Three sets of doomed siblings
We are introduced to stepsiblings Arvin and Lenora as they are raised for years under the same roof and deeply care for one another. However, Lenora's assault and subsequent suicide drive the two apart and lead to Arvin's road to revenge. The two were raised by another set of siblings Arvin's grandmother, Emma, and his Uncle Earskell.
While these two survive to the end of the film, their lives are plagued with terrible loss. Two of the children they raised, Willard and Lenora, meet an untimely demise, and Arvin simply disappears. The last set of siblings, while not the most sympathetic pair, are doomed in their own rite. Sheriff Lee is a reputation-obsessed crooked sheriff who uses his power to cover for his sister Sandy.
At first, he turns the other way when her sex work is brought to his attention, but eventually goes far enough to destroy evidence when he finds out about her and her husband's murderous tendencies. In two scenes of dramatic retribution, both siblings wind up dead by the end of the film.
3. Three sets of dead villains
By the hand of a 17-year-old boy and his father's Luger, the three villains of the film are shot by Arvin. Preacher Preston is shot in the stomach after Arvin confronts him over what he did to Lenora. Carl and Sandy are both shot in self-defense after Arvin grows increasingly suspicious of the serial-killing couple. Corrupt-cop Lee is the final victim after chasing Arvin through the woods and finally dying at Willard's altar.
Arvin's chance encounters lead to retributive justice that can seem only divine. This motif drives this rural American epic and catapults the story into motion.
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