1 feb. 2011

My Review: Devil (8/10)

¨My mother's story would always end in the same way, with a suicide paving the way for the Devil's arrival. And it would always end with the deaths of all those trapped.¨

Devil is the first film of The Night Chronicles Trilogy dealing with supernatural forces in the city, and although it wasn’t directed by M. Night Shyamalan the story was written and produced by him. The screenplay was adapted by Brian Nelson (30 Days of Night and Hard Candy) and I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed this suspenseful movie. The movie is by no means scary or anything like that, but it does manage to maintain the mystery and suspense up to the very end with the classic twist (which has become a Shyamalan trademark that many viewers have learned to hate over time). I on the other hand have always enjoyed his films and actually like his original stories. The Sixth Sense is one of my all time favorite films, and I really enjoyed Signs, Unbreakable, and The Happening as well. Shyamalan`s latest film, The Last Airbender, was a huge disappointment for me, and to be perfectly honest I was expecting Devil to be another miss, especially after seeing the trailer and hearing about the plot. I mean who would be interested in a film about a group of people trapped in an elevator with one of them being the devil? I was ready to hate this movie and the first few minutes didn`t seem to make me change my mind, but once we got inside the elevator with these characters I was smiling again. The performance from the relatively unknown cast was actually pretty good, especially from Chris Messina who had the lead role as Detective Bowden. I don`t think Shyamalan will win any new converts however so if you don`t like him stay away from this film, but if you are in the minority who tends to enjoy his films then by all means go see this because it is a huge improvement over The Last Airbender.

The story works better on film than it actually sounds on paper. Devil is based on the folktale known as ¨The Devil`s Meeting¨ which states that once in a while the Devil will come in human form to torture his victims before taking their souls. The film begins by introducing us to Detective Bowden (Chris Messina), a man who is trying to get over the pain of having lost his wife and child in a car accident that involved a hit and run driver. An apparent suicide takes place so Bowden is at the crime scene investigating the incident. Meanwhile, in the building where the suicide took place an incident occurs in one of the elevators where 5 people are trapped inside: a mechanic (Logan Marshall-Green), an old lady (Jenny O`Hara), a young businesswoman (Bojana Novakovic), a salesman (Geoffrey Arend), and a temporary security guard (Bokeem Woodbine). At first it seems as a simple elevator malfunction so the security officers from the building decide to take care of the problem, but once things get out of their control they decide to call Bowden to help them with the rescue mission before anyone gets hurt. One of the security guards tells the Detective that this is the devil`s work, that one of those people is actually the Devil and he is going to kill each one of the people in the elevator. Bowden doesn`t take the comment seriously, but realizes that all five of them have hidden secrets and that there is more to the incident than meets the eye.

Devil is directed by John Erick Dowdle, who became known for Quarantine (based on a Spanish horror remake), but as I said before Night Shyamalan`s signature trademarks are all over this film. The movie is produced by him and is based on his story, the movie takes place in Pennsylvania like his entire films do, all the characters in the elevator are wearing something with red on it (Shyamalan has a thing for colors, especially red), and it also has a surprise twist at the end, which may not be all that surprising for everyone but still manages to work. For those of us who are familiar with his work we can tell that he was heavily involved with this project and there is no doubt about that. The movie is very short, it only runs at about 80 minutes and I think it was perfect for this sort of film because if it were a little longer it could have lost some of the suspense. Devil had me at the edge of my seat despite not being interested very much in the characters which are two dimensional, but either way the thriller worked and it kept me entertained. This is definitely not a film for everyone. Those people who aren’t big fans of Shyamalan will want to skip this one, but I was pleasantly surprised with this film and had a good time thanks to a decent story and good performances from the cast.

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