Devil Directed by: John Erick Dowdle Cast: Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O'Hara, Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, Geoffrey Arend Running Time: 1 hr 20 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: September 17, 2010
PLOT: Five strangers get trapped in an elevator and bad things start happening. A cop (Messina) gets pulled into this and tries to make sense of it all.
WHO'S IT FOR? Did you like the bad episodes of the revival of The Twilight Show in the 1980s? Well, you might care about this one then. Either that, or if you have issues with an ordinary devil being real, then get in line for this one.
This film wasn't screened for critics. This film is produced by M. Night Shymalan and he also received a "Story by" credit. That means his taint is all over it. In fact, it's the first in a series of "The Night Chronicles." It's also barely long enough to qualify as a movie with a running time of 80 minutes. I won't let those things affect this review. I promise.
The concept of strangers getting trapped in an elevator, and awful, bloody things beginning to happen is creepy. Kind of makes your skin crawl, like you've got a bed bug on you. We've got an old woman (O'Hara), a mechanic (Marshall-Green), a young woman (Novakovic), a guard (Woodbine) and a salesman (Arend) all stuck in a tight area, and everyone is a suspect. Any one of them could be a killer. But then there is this nagging voice in your head that keeps saying, "It's the devil, it's the devil, it's the devil." Wait a minute, the voice isn't coming from inside your head. I repeat the phone call is coming from inside the house. Oops, I just got stuck in another thriller. Let me back up, the voice isn't coming from inside your head. Devil is narrated from the character of Ramirez (Jacob Vargas). He tells us the devil likes to brings small groups of people together, do bad things, and harm anyone who tries to get in the way. He also decides he sees the devil's face in a still-shoot on the video screen. For me, this removes all mystery. The devil is doing it. Done. Every time the lights go black, I don't wonder what character might be hurting the others. The devil is doing it. It's such an intrusive device to enter a thriller, I can't imagine the actual point.
There are other things that don't work here. They use of Inception-like booming music to try and create tension. It just gets in the way, because it's really the only tension. Nothing on the screen makes you nervous. I jumped a little in my seat when an engineer was heading down an elevator shaft to rescue the victims. That's it. Just once. There is also this gray area on who these victims are, and if they're really evil. In fact, only one person in the elevator has a chance to explain or ask for forgiveness. I guess the others were truly evil enough for the devil to take the time and care to torment their lives. If this character of the devil is truly the opposite of God, then neither seem that impressive. Plus, when the BIG reveal happens at the end, there's not much to it. In fact, this is probably the most mild ending to a thriller I have seen in the past decade.
There is a concept here that is a good one. A killer in an elevator that may have a purpose or connection with the others. But this movie is trampled by the title and inclusion of the devil. The actors aren't big enough, anything with the name Shyamalan has trouble right now, and the pay off is non-existent. This Devil doesn't do it.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10