It’s now on Netflix so let’s get The Devil All the Time ending explained. Here, we recount the last act and explore the final scene’s meaning with perspective from its director.
While cinemas temporarily closed their doors for months on end this year – with some yet to open – it’s still been a pretty significant year for film fans.
With the likes of Tenet, The Invisible Man, Never Rarely Sometimes Always and beyond generating interesting discussion, end of the year lists will still have plenty to work with.
On the other hand, it’s worth noting that Netflix has absolutely smashed it so far this year.
Sure, they’ve arguably missed the mark with some efforts, but with Da 5 Bloods, Uncut Gems, I’m Thinking of Ending Things and now The Devil All the Time, any film fan would simply be missing out on some of the year’s very best without a subscription to the streaming service.
The Devil All the Time is the latest film from director Antonio Campos, who has previously helmed the likes of Afterschool, Simon Killer and 2016’s Christine.
His films tend to be very dark and deal with sinister and upsetting subject matter. Of course, his latest star-studded epic is no different in that regard.
Let’s dive into that ending…
The Devil All the Time ending explained
Right, so let’s break down what happened.
After Lenora (played by Eliza Scanlen) sleeps with the manipulative and sleazy preacher, Preston (Robert Pattinson) she becomes pregnant. However, the preacher dismisses his responsibility and encourages her to solve the dilemma on her own.
She turns to suicide and prepares a noose. However, as she stands with her head in it, she has a change of heart. Tragically, she slips after deciding to live and dies anyway, to be discovered by her foster brother Arvin (Tom Holland).
Arvin watches Preston closely over the subsequent weeks after discovering Lenora was pregnant and discovers she wasn’t the only one to fall prey to his lust.
In the church, Arvin confronts and kills him with the gun once owned by his dad, Willard (Bill Skarsgård).
As a result, Arvin then flees the scene and hitchhikes to Meade with killers Sandy (Riley Keough) and Carl (Jason Clarke). As the car stops, Arvin spies the gun in Carl’s back pocket so keeps his hand ready on his own, soon shooting Carl and then Sandy, who pulls a gun on Arvin filled with blanks; it’s explained that a paranoid Carl made the switch.
The young man then heads back to his old family home but Sheriff Bodecker (Sebastian Stan) essentially gets a tip that Arvin is the one who killed his sister, Sandy, along with the preacher.
A showdown between the two follows and Arvin protests his reasons as Bodecker stalks him with a shotgun. Both shoot; Arvin hits and Bodecker misses.
As Bodecker dies, Arvin shows him the incriminating photograph of Sandy but the audience is aware that Bodecker was already knowledgeable of her crimes after he searched their household.
The film ends with Arvin hitting the road once again, being picked up by a hippie headed to Cincinnati. The narration returns and the sound from the radio anchors the image, with President Johnson’s decision to usher in mandatory drafting for the Vietnam War.
Exhausted, Arvin falls asleep and we’re presented with a potential future of him fighting in Vietnam, while he wonders if he’ll be able to start a family.
Antonio Campos explores its meaning
Now we have The Devil All the Time ending explained, let’s talk meaning.
The book ends with the line: ‘If he was lucky, someone would give him a ride.’ So, the film actually gives us a little extra, chronicling Arvin’s journey that little bit further and suggesting what may be his future.
As highlighted by Games Radar, director Antonio Campos reflected on the ending and explained: “We felt like we wanted to go one step further, and to see what happens in the car, and to see what happens when Arvin… can breathe for a moment. Where does his mind take him? We wanted to try to use that [final scene] as a way of giving you a slightly more hopeful ending… it’s not a happy ending, but it has the potential for something…”
The speech from the radio also provides the ending with a profounding meaning, which the director also comments on:
“We felt like the other key ingredient was the war… [it’s] mentioned throughout the book… in the movie – it’s kind of just in the background. But we felt to really bring home the point that this story is told between two wars, that the radio and the place where his mind goes would really kind of just bring home that point – that this is a story of someone who’s coming back from the war traumatised, and someone who’s potentially going to go into another war and will experience that same trauma. So, the [scene in the] car allowed us to do all of that.”
Essentially, he’s about to possibly begin a similar journey to that of his father, where the film began. Throughout the Devil All the Time there is a creeping sense of cruel irony and it can be interpreted that the film ends in this fashion too.
While Antonio talks of a more hopeful ending, Arvin’s fate can be considered totally ambiguous.
What’s the verdict?
A number of audiences have already flocked to Twitter to offer their thoughts on the film.
Check out a selection of tweets:
In other news, where was The Devil All the Time filmed?