Devil

  • Year:2010
  • Rating:M
  • Director:John Erick Dowdle, Drew Dowdle
  • Cast:Matt Craven, Chris Messina, Bojana Novakovic, Jacob Vargas, Bokeem Woodbine
  • Release Date:December 02, 2010
  • Distributor:Universal
  • Running time:80 minutes
  • Film Worth:$10.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Despite a terrific premise and strong performances, this chiller is let down by its ineffective build-up and trite conclusion.

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Devil has a terrific premise. In a scenario designed to bring out everyone's inner claustrophobe, five strangers become trapped in an elevator. One of their number is The Devil. As the body count mounts, and the group's initial irritation turns to terror, it's up to the viewer to guess who the (ultimate) bad guy is.

Devil is the result of a decision by prolific writer/director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, The Village) to have some of his surplus stories developed into features by up-and-coming filmmakers. Director John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine) and screenwriter Brian Nelson (Hard Candy) were handed the first concept, and have created an interesting, if not entirely successful, film.

Stylistically, it's impressive. Beginning with a soaring opening sequence of a city upside down, it simply but effectively creates a sense of normality being turned on its head, and of events slipping out of control. The sense of helplessness is continued throughout the film with vertiginous shots down elevator shafts and from the roof of a skyscraper. 

The performances are uniformly good, with the elevator scenes enabling tight ensemble work (it's nice to see Australian Bojana Novakovic doing her bit), as well as the requisite muzak gags. Some of the completely darkened scenes in the elevator do come across rather like a radio play, but that's a minor quibble.

Devil's main flaw is a lack of build-up. It's threatening and ominous so early in the piece that events are forced to escalate fairly quickly, which leaves a large part of the film feeling dramatically uniform.

The plot is wrapped up rather tritely as well, though it's worth bearing in mind that this is the first in a series of films that Shyamalan has titled The Night Chronicles, a name as suggestive of fantasy as it is of horror.

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