At some point or another, his host enters a skyscraper and hops into an elevator, which promptly breaks down and traps five people inside. A salesman, a security guard, an old lady, a socialite and a mechanic are stuck with each other- but while they all seem destined for Hell, which of them is the Devil in disguise?
It's a matter of public record that Shyamalan isn't exactly living up to his initial potential. All of that came to a head in The Last Airbender, resulting in widespread reports of people audibly groaning at the trailer for Devil when it pronounced itself as "a new nightmare from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan." Funnily enough, for a director once heralded as the new Hitchcock, this story makes for the most Hitchcockian film his name has been attached to, and he didn't even direct it.
Mostly, the detachment comes from the fact that we exit the elevator to show other characters rather than zeroing in on our trapped Satanic suspects. Indeed, the main character is arguably a detective who watches helplessly. He's played by Chris Messina, who gives the best performance in the film despite being saddled with the most predictable backstory. There's a great slimy turn from Geoffrey Arend too, but it's really nothing to remark upon.
The screenwriting credit on this one goes to Brian Nelson, who previously wrote Hard Candy. This makes me, like many others, call shenanigans on how much Shyamalan actually did. The script is full of his tics as a filmmaker- the stuff that's annoyed us in every single one of his films since Signs. In particular, the hilarity is ramped up by the presence of a Hispanic security guard who first brings up portents of "el diablo", seeing evil in the way a piece of toast lands on the carpet. M. Night almost certainly polished the script, even if in his case that means spitting on it and trying to shine it with the hem of his shirt.
|What's that thing, you ask? Not a clue. And I've SEEN the film.|
Many of the film's establishing shots are upside down, which oddly enough reflects Shyamalan's skewed perspective on filmmaking these days. Devil ends up being an utterly inoffensive and smaller-scale version of Ten Little Indians, despite having the potential to be a lot more memorable and interesting. It's no reflection on director John Erick Dowdle, but on a story that is stretched even at 80 minutes, which would be more suited to a Twilight Zone episode, or a slot in an anthology horror film. I'd say it's really more of a thriller than a horror film, but then where are all the thrills?
Devil is now playing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen Devil, why not leave a comment on the film and/or my review? If you've recently dropped toast with the jelly facing down, I'd advise you not to call a priest or an exorcist or the Ghostbusters- no one really acts like the characters Shyamalan creates.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.