For nearly two hours, you are left with not only the mystery of who did what, but who will pay for the crime?
|Screenplay By||Charles Murray|
|Where To Watch||In Theaters|
|Genre(s)||Action, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Romance, Family|
|Duration||1 Hour and 56 Minutes|
|Content Rating||Rated R|
|Terry||Vaughn W. Hebron|
|Della||Vanessa Bell Calloway|
|Loren||Ashley A. Williams|
The Cowans brothers, Anthony, Marcus, Drew, and Terry, were raised in a two-parent, loving household. But, while Anthony and Terry, the oldest and youngest, have wives, stable employment, and good lives, the middle brothers struggle a bit. Marcus recently recovered from alcohol addiction and got out of prison, but got a hook up from his dad Lloyd to drive a city bus, and his sister-in-law even matched him with her co-worker, Eva.
As for Drew? Sadly, as Marcus rises, he falls, from his girl breaking up with him, losing his job, and finding himself increasingly desperate to the point of hanging around Stacy and Al, who are known to get into some stuff. This is why, after a home invasion turned murder leads to a soon to retire detective named Joe to sniff around, so comes the question of who will go down for the crime, and will it be due to good detective work or snitching?
Things To Note
- Reason(s) for Film Rating: Cursing (Of course), Violence (gun violence – including up-close imagery of bullet wounds, knife violence, and blood), Miscellaneous (smoking, drinking, and depiction of alcoholism)
Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.
Anthony is the eldest of Della and Lloyd’s kids, who has a business under the family name focused on construction.
Marcus is a recovering alcoholic with a record who is making a comeback in life with a recent opportunity to drive a city bus.
With recently losing his job and long-time girlfriend, Drew’s life is a bit of a downward spiral, which he doesn’t like since he was used to the family failure being Marcus.
Terry is the youngest of his brothers and is the assistant pastor at a local church.
Eva is the co-worker of Anthony’s wife at a local hospital, who hasn’t dated in a while and is still dealing with the tragic death of her two brothers.
Stacy owns a local barbershop, and he has been trouble for as long as the Cowans have known him. However, his trouble hasn’t been a family problem until Drew got involved with him.
Al is Stacy’s right hand, who often isn’t too far from Stacy and is definitely quick on the trigger.
Lloyd is the patriarch of the Cowans clan who often can be seen watching a sports game on TV.
Joe is a detective working his final case, for after so many Black bodies being convicted or with chalk lines around them, the trauma has begun to get too heavy.
Loren is Terry’s wife.
Della is an accountant by trade and the matriarch of the Cowans family.
Quality Mystery & Morality Question
The key mystery of The Devil You Know is the question of what Drew did and what he is capable of, alongside the question of, will anyone in his family, knowing what they know, snitch? This is the question that drives the entire movie as Catlett allows Drew to unravel. Thus making the viewer see these various relationships that create this push and pull between asking questions, if not outright making accusations, to doing as Della does. Which is exist somewhere between burying the truth with ignorance or living in the mindset of thinking your child isn’t capable of such horrible things.
Which will lead you to question, as Stacy and Al get pulled in and questioned, who is the crazy one here? Who is the criminal, and who is simply looking to make money with the wrong people? Never mind, is there more to the story than we know, and when it comes to the morality bit, at what point do you have to accept you are withholding information that could allow someone to get justice? Not just in the form of knowing who did what, but having them pay for the crimes of not only murdering someone’s family but completely obliterating someone’s life and trajectory within the span of ten to twenty minutes?
The Family Dynamic Of The Male Members
As we’ll go into below, the women of the film are mainly storytelling tools and nothing more. The men, however? With them, you get a rich web of relationships ranging from Anthony loving the youngest brother Terry, but because of his issues with organized religion, he won’t step into his brother’s church and will hasten his brother’s prayers whenever possible. Yet, despite their differences on one of Terry’s core values, there is nothing but love. The same goes for Drew and Marcus’ relationship. There is a recognition that one is rising up in the world as the other is tumbling down, and there is some resentment there. Not being the black sheep, the family screw up, is a blessing. Yet, seeing yourself slowly take on that role is terrifying, even with knowing and receiving help so that you don’t lose everything you worked for.
Then when you add in their dad, and each boy clearly loving and adoring their father? It makes for a rarely seen relationship dynamic. These five men, blood-related, do bicker, curse, and yell at one another, but when things go down, they quarrel together. Be it because Lloyd, their dad, falls ill, because Drew is struggling, and even when Marcus wasn’t doing well before the events of the movie, everyone pitched in.
Heck, to really show the beauty of the bonds of these men, forgiveness is ample, despite the flaws and failings of each other, and that helps you further understand why the idea of Drew being a true criminal is hard for them to accept. Never mind the idea of turning him in for the sake of some other family’s peace.
Michael Ealy doesn’t play a huge role in The Devil You Know, but does sometimes come off as a ghostly figure. One to remind you there was a crime committed and as the detective assigned, the case wears on Ealy’s character Joe. Especially since, as a LA cop, too many times his cases end with Black bodies in chalk lines or as the perpetrator – hence his early retirement.
But, another thing that makes Ealy’s take on a cop stand out is the manipulation tactic. To get the answers he needs, he preys on the weak and vulnerable, trying to be the right one at the wrong time or the wrong one at the right time. It’s an interesting take on how detectives work to gain information, even a conviction, and with Joe honed in on Marcus, it makes you wonder as Joe finds himself popping in just as Marcus is bouncing back from the latest blow in his life, how far will Joe go? How desperate will Joe get to close this case and end his career with yet another conviction?
It, Mostly, Uses It’s Time Length Well
While we always approach movies longer than 90 minutes with apprehension, The Devil You Know, minus one exception, utilizes its run time well. From trying to figure out how involved Drew is, to Stacy and Al getting paranoid as Joe starts making headway, to the latter half of the film which puts the morality question center stage, you rarely have a reason to check your watch, or get bored.
If anything, you’re increasingly drawn in as we go from one question to the next and go from one heinous crime to another, which ups the ante a bit.
The Women, At Best, Are Catalyst And At Worst, An Afterthought
For the most part, the women of The Devil You Know aren’t notable. Terry’s wife Loren barely says a paragraph’s worth of dialog, and Anthony’s wife doesn’t contribute to The Devil You Know beyond introducing Marcus to her co-worker Eva and Eva? She is a love interest turned catalyst for Marcus questioning what to do about his brother? Never mind, their relationship woes open Marcus up to be vulnerable enough to drink again.
Oh, and Vanessa Bell Calloway’s character, Della? She is just straight up the mom and wife. Altogether, for every positive thing you can say about the men, as individuals and in relation to each other, their spouses, the women of The Devil You Know don’t get the same. They barely interact with one another, don’t talk amongst themselves at all, and outside of Eva talking about her brothers who died, you don’t really learn much, if anything, about the women either. Heck, you could easily miss Calloway’s character is a head accountant if you get distracted for a second.
Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)
Like most dramas of this ilk, while the men flourish with rich and complicated characters, the women are purely utilized to get the story moving along, with little to no character development. Yet, despite that plague on this genre of movies, The Devil You Know has more than enough good in it to be worth seeing.
On The Radar
- Recommended: Some of the best-seen movies we have ever watched and mentioned to friends, family, and strangers as films that need to be seen.
- Positive (Worth Seeing): Whether you’ll have to go to the movies, download, or stream, movies of this category are worth your time and money with few, if any, qualms from us.
- Mixed (Divisive): Due to this movie having a few quirks, of which may work for some and for others be a problem, we believe your enjoyment of this movie will depend on your taste.
- Negative (Acquired Taste): While one or two elements kept us going until the end, unfortunately, we’re of the opinion this film never reached the potential it was marketed to have.
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