Mild spoilers here if any aspect of a Shymalan film still comes as a surprise to you.

It’s unquestionable that Devil was purposely marketing itself as an M. Night Shymalan film. And I cannot understand for the life of me why they would do that. Is it an ego thing since the production company is owned by Shymalan himself? Is the general public dumb enough to be shepherded into a film based on a pretty good film eleven years ago? Devil wasn’t directed by M. Night.  He didn’t even write it (that credit goes to Brian Nelson).  But  it is the first of a trilogy of films called The Night Chronicles, all based on Shymalan’s ideas.  The point of all this is moot. Shymalan didn’t direct it. He didn’t write it.  The movie still sucks.

Five random (or seemingly random) strangers get on an elevator in Philadelphia. The elevator gets stuck. Someone or something is killing the passengers one by one every time the lights in the elevator go out. Oh, there’s an atheist cop played by Chris Messina who’s observing the whole thing through security cameras, and he’s deftly paired with an overly religious Mexican security guard.

As this film is written by the master of attempted twist endings, it should be no surprise to anyone that the ending defy’s logic. Although like his last few films, it’s all mostly predictable. The characters are shallowly developed. Director John Erick Dowdle seems to relish the opportunity to feature claustrophobia more prominently than his cast (this is evidence by his previous film Quarantine, the rather bland remake of Spain’s [REC]). But ironically, cinematographer Tak Fujimoto uses his camera angles to make the inside of the elevator seem stifling, but certainly roomy enough for between one and five live passengers for a few hours. Any tension claustrophobia may have brought to the situation is quickly written off since we know next to nothing about the characters, so we don’t care when the racist old woman is hanged, or the cocky mattress salesmen is impaled by a shard of glass mirror.

Devil may not be as hacky as, perhaps, Lady in the Water.  But there’s nothing here new, exciting, or a suspenseful.  The physical limitations of the main characters chould have been a tremendous asset of the script.  And Nelson has proved he can do much with little like in Hard Candy.  But everything falls short and flat.  Devil will be a distant, and faded memory by the time you get to your car.


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6 Responses to “Devil”
  1. Fletch says:

    I just got out of seeing this one, and I disagree. It’s not gonna rewrite the way films are made or anything, but it’s a decent ghost story, and one that I think we’d all like more had it come out immediately after 6th Sense. It’s basically a B movie elevated (no pun intended) to A-minus status, but it’s well-enough made and features ok-enough acting. I don’t know – I’m not exactly praising it, but I didn’t have any vitriol towards it, either. It was appropriately spooky at times, and despite the shallow characters and predictably twisty route, I thought it was fun enough.
    Fletch´s last blog post ..30 dAyS oF cRaZy- Secret Window

  2. Blake says:

    @ Fletch – I’m probably being a bit biased because I dislike Shymalan so much, but this felt like a Saw film for teenagers.

  3. Fletch says:

    Haha – I don’t really agree, but I see your point (and that’s pretty funny, too).
    Fletch´s last blog post ..30 dAyS oF cRaZy- Secret Window

  4. Anna says:

    “Shymalan didn’t direct it. He didn’t write it. The movie still sucks.”


    Oh and yea, that “Hard Candy” was some ride. Man, I still remember it.

  5. Harriet says:

    Seems a bit cheesy to me! Well, not cheesy, seeing as itsb a horror film but you know what I mean, predictable!
    Harriet´s last blog post ..BlackBerry Bold 9700 White

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