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Devil (2010)

Starring:

Bojana Novakovic

Bokeem Woodbine

Caroline Dhavernas

Chris Messina

Geoffrey Arend

Jacob Vargas

Jenny O'Hara

Joe Cobden

Logan Marshall-Green

Matt Craven

Vincent Laresca

Zoie Palmer

Directed by:

John Erick Dowdle

Rating: 6/10

Country: United States

Assumptions are going to be made about Devil, either positive or negative, because M. Night Shyamalan’s name is attached to its creation. Some see him as a hack, while others laud him as the second coming of Hitchcock. With the exception of the horrible Airbender (let’s hope it’s the last) of earlier this year, there’s something to be said for each of his productions. Now, Devil isn’t directed by Shyamalan, nor did he write the screenplay, but it’s based on a story of his that’s set to be a part of what he’s calling “The Night Chronicles”, and it’s got his twisty little prints all over it.

We learn right off the bat via voiceover that the Devil is always on the prowl for bad souls to drag with him to Hell, and that when he’s afoot, there’s a suicide to announce him. Well, right around the time some dude jumps off a building, five strangers find themselves trapped in an elevator, and before too long, everyone’s turning on each other. When they start dying off, though, it becomes obvious to the guards and detectives watching via security camera that something much more sinister than claustrophobic humans is riding along.

Devil isn’t a horrible movie, it’s just that it doesn’t feel like a movie at all, more like an episode of “The Twilight Zone”. Plus, the fact that even M. Night himself has said the whole story is based on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None calls into question why it even exists. It’s not scary especially, and save for the occasional bursts of eerie music, nothing really happens until at least a half hour or so in—and it’s only an 80-minute movie. I’m usually all for a good “group of strangers” scary movie, but it helps to care about at least one or two of the group. Everyone here is expendable, and as they expend, no one cares. Again, when I say it’s like a “Twilight Zone”, I mean it—like the one with the characters in the room with the tall walls, where at the end they turn out to be Salvation Army donations? These trapped elevator folks are all just characters—Mechanic, Guard, Salesman—and though they supposedly are all big enough sinners to have attracted the attention of the Devil himself, all their supposed sins are pretty lackluster. In a short story, this would’ve worked, but when it’s lifted from the page and set out on the big screen, there’s not enough there to sustain interest, and what little attempts there are at scares aren’t much more than flickering lights and screams.

It's Got: Promise as a TV episode, A mildly surprising twist, A nice and quick runtime

It Needs: More scares, better characters, less voiceover

Alternatives:

Lady in the Water, Quarantine, The Mist

Summary

Not a bad little movie, even without the Shyamalan directing it feels like he was all over it, but it was probably better in its short story form.

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