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Devil (2010)

DVD Cover (Universal)
Genres:
Religious Horror, Supernatural Drama, Supernatural Thriller, Thriller, Whodunit
Director:
John Erick Dowdle John Erick Dowdle
Starring:
Chris Messina Chris Messina
Logan Marshall-Green Logan Marshall-Green
Jenny O'Hara Jenny O'Hara
Bojana Novakovic Bojana Novakovic
Bokeem Woodbine Bokeem Woodbine

6.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: September 22, 2010
I remember the first time I saw a trailer for the film "Devil"; the audience laughed the moment they saw the name 'M. Night Shyamalan' pop up. This bothered me. Sure, the guy has made two bad films in a row and there is not much redeeming one can say about either "The Happening" or "The Last Airbender"; but this is the guy who gave us "The Sixth Sense", "Unbreakable", "Signs" and (one of my personal favorites) "Lady in the Water". He is still a solid filmmaker. Hell, look at all the bombs Woody Allen, Brian De Palma and Rob Reiner have made and you don't hear people laughing when they see their names grace the screen. And even more surprising is how many people still likely walked out of the theatre thinking Shyamalan directed "Devil". He did not. He came up with the story as part of his Night Chronicles anthology and also produced the film.

Even with limited involvement, Shyamalan's stamp is all over this picture. The film centers around the old legend of the Devil returning to Earth to take the lives of sinners; he will put a group of people in a location, disguise as one of them and pick the rest off, one by one, in a torturous manner...to punish them for the sins they have committed. This situation comes to fruition in the form of an elevator that gets stuck with five passengers. We have a security guard (Bokeem Woodbine), a mechanic (Logan Marshall-Reid), an old lady (Jenny O'Hara), a young woman (Bojana Novakovic) and a salesman (Geoffrey Arend). The film takes an Agatha Christie approach to the picking off of the passengers as a detective (Chris Messina) watches from the video cameras and tries to make sense of it all. Is it the devil? Is it a psychotic elevator passenger? "Devil" asks these questions and places us all in a place we definitely don't want to be.

What works about this film is the story. Shyamalan has always had a gift for story and it's on full display here. The film really focuses on character and character development, especially Messina's character. We learn more and more about the people in this film even though most of them don't have actual names. The cinematography is expertly handled by the always reliable Tak Fujimoto, especially the scenes inside the elevator...imagine how difficult it is to be imaginative with a camera in such a confined space. Director John Erick Dowdle does a great job of building tension and also taking time to keep that suspense leveled out for extended periods of time. The voice-over narration lets us know, early on, what we're in for and we're always expecting something to be lurking just around the corner. It's the same trick Shyamalan always uses...it's what we don't see.

Performances are universally solid, especially from Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Reid and Bokeem Woodbine. They really do a great job of creating something and rolling with it. I will say that I thought the PG-13 rating might have been a little underkill and the film could have used more in that department. I don't mind a tame horror film...I thought "1408" was terrific...but there were certain things we were not allowed to see that I knew were sitting on the cutting room floor so they could get that rating. I also didn't expect the film to be as allegorical as it turned out to be. That isn't a bad thing, but it was just unexpected. People will likely be surprised by it.

On the whole, I really dug this picture. It makes me really anxious for another Shyamalan picture to come out that isn't "The Last Airbender" related. I still think he's an insanely talented screenwriter and director and I think he's got a lot left in him. People need to cut him some slack. "Devil" gets the job done and is accessible enough to make it mainstream enough to hopefully connected with an audience. But if you go in expecting a horror film you will be sorely disappointed. This is a suspense film and a character drama. You'll get some level of blood and death but not enough to justify your trailer-based expectations. 7/10.
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AttnDefDis #1: AttnDefDis - added 09/22/2010, 05:48 PM
That's awesome. The theater that I was in, everyone collectively groaned when they saw Shyamalan's name pop up. I didn't know he had anything to do with this and I had no interest in five people crammed in an elevator for 2 hours. Then when I saw his name I knew it would be all or nothing. You seem to be a bigger fan of his than I am and I haven't seen this movie. So, it's not far for me to judge, but I will say that The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable were great. The rest of his films and I have seen all of them, I could have done without. So, for me, that's a pretty bad track record. He's like an author where you read two or three books and you know that all of the others are going to have the same elements and the same gotcha ending. When you know what to expect, it's no longer suspenseful and some of the explanations are just stupid. That's my problem with his movies. I may catch this one on DVD just for kicks. Thanks for the review.
MrMurder #2: MrMurder - added 10/02/2010, 07:21 PM
I personally hate EVERYTHING M. Night SHAMalan makes. Unbreakable was a somewhat entertaining movie up until that stupid fucking "twist" ending. Signs was a total piece of garbage through and through. The Village was just an utter waste of time. The Sixth Sense was predictable and incredibly overrated. And Lady In the Water is just plain forgettable - honestly. I don't remember a damn thing about it.

I refuse to waste any more of my time on this guy.
DillonBerserk #3: DillonBerserk - added 10/04/2010, 12:48 AM
Saw twice in theatres. Wont see it and enjoy until years later. Too simple of setting to forget. Predictable. 6/10.
grain of sand #4: grain of sand - added 10/21/2010, 04:24 AM
Eh, I really enjoyed this for what it was. Great review, 7/10 is on the money
crucibelle #5: crucibelle - added 04/18/2011, 04:02 PM
I looooved this movie.. 10/10 from me! :D
Crispy #6: Crispy - added 05/11/2011, 09:10 PM
Nothing amazing, but it served its purpose. 7/10
blarc #7: blarc - added 01/05/2012, 09:39 AM
I actually enjoyed this film. I am not going to put it on a list of top `10 all time greats, but as far a entertainment, it worked. Forget how directed it and how he follows a bisic story line, it was enjoyable. a good solid 7/10
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