The Devil All The Time Book Ending Vs. Movie Ending (Explained)

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The Devil All The Time is based on a book — but which ending is better? Book or movie? Honestly, they are both pretty similar.

devil all the time movie poster

The Devil All The Time is a Netflix movie based on a book. All too often the endings change slightly when a story comes to the big (or small) screen. This time the movie stays pretty faithful to the book, more or less, anyways. Here’s a fun fact, the author of the book (Donald Ray Pollock) is actually the narrator of the film, so that is a really cool touch.

After watching the movie, I read the book. I appreciate them both for what they are and if I had to choose, I would say the book is a little better. That is almost always the case anyways, isn’t it?

In case you missed it, check out my The Devil All The Time Review
and my favorite The Devil All The Time quotes.

devil all the time tom holland

The Devil All The Time: Tom Holland as Arvin Russell. Photo Cr. Glen Wilson/Netflix © 2020

The Devil All The Time Movie Ending

At the end of the movie all of the stories seem to come together. Arvin has killed Reverend Preston, who deserved it after what he did to Leonora. Arvin has also killed Sandy and Carl in self defense, when they tried to kill him. He now heads back home, where the story started. Of course, all of the people he killed more than deserved it.

Sheriff Lee Bodecker receives a phone call that Arvin is suspected of killing Preston and that it is thought he has returned home. Bodecker knows this means he likely killed his sister and her husband as well. Sure, he knows they deserved it after his discovery in their home, but he has an election to think about. Arvin goes back to his old house to find it has burnt down. He goes to the prayer log, where his father killed himself, to bury the bones of his dog. The one his father killed as a sacrifice hoping it would save his wife. 

After a standoff, Arvin is forced to shoot and kill Bodecker as well. He ends up hitchhiking and is picked up by a man with long hair and a beard. A man resembling Jesus. Arvin decides to go with the man to Cincinnati. He is exhausted and fights to stay awake. He dreams of the law realizing the good he has done, and that maybe he could be forgiven for the murders he committed. As he finally falls asleep, the movie fades to black.

the devil all the time

The Devil All The Time (L-R) Bill Skarsgård as Willard Russell, Michael Banks Repeta as Arvin Russell (9 Years Old). Photo Cr. Glen Wilson/Netflix © 2020

The Devil All The Time Book Ending

Roy is on his way home to find his daughter, Lenora, and Carl and Sandy pick him up. They murder him — meaning he is not one of their first like in the movie. After they kill him, they pick up Arvin and attempt to kill him. He shoots them in self defense and continues on to the place where he grew up.

He is pursued by Sheriff Bodecker and cornered by the “praying log” where his father would perform his ritualistic sacrifices. He kills Bodecker and performs his own act of devotion. He leaves the clearing with a sense of hope. And the book ends.

the devil all the time

The Devil All The Time: Sebastian Stan as Lee Bodecker. Photo Cr. Glen Wilson/Netflix © 2020

Differences Between Movie & Book

Like I said before, the movie and the book are pretty similar. The timeline is a little bit different, for example when Roy is killed as I discussed earlier. In the book Arvin’s father is a bit more ritualistic and borders on obsession when it comes to faith. We do see it a little bit in the movie, but it comes through more in the book. The major difference is that all the stories don’t come together until the end of the book, whereas we see them coming together earlier on in the movie.

devil all the time robert pattinson

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

About The Devil All The Time

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, Eliza Scanlen, Mia Wasikowska, Harry Melling, Haley Bennett, and Pokey LaFarge, this suspenseful, finely-woven tale is adapted from Donald Ray Pollock’s award-winning novel.

The Devil All The Time hits Netflix on September 16th!

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