John Erick Dowdle
Country: United States
Assumptions are going to be made about Devil, either positive or negative, because M. Night Shyamalans 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 (lets hope its the last) of earlier this year, theres something to be said for each of his productions. Now, Devil isnt directed by Shyamalan, nor did he write the screenplay, but its based on a story of his thats set to be a part of what hes calling The Night Chronicles, and its 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 hes afoot, theres 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, everyones 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 isnt a horrible movie, its just that it doesnt 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 Christies And Then There Were None calls into question why it even exists. Its not scary especially, and save for the occasional bursts of eerie music, nothing really happens until at least a half hour or so inand its only an 80-minute movie. Im 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 its like a Twilight Zone, I mean itlike 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 charactersMechanic, Guard, Salesmanand 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 wouldve worked, but when its lifted from the page and set out on the big screen, theres not enough there to sustain interest, and what little attempts there are at scares arent 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
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.