Opening Date: September 17, 2010
M. Night Shyamalan is back to his old tricks of giving audiences nightmares, instead of just making movies that are nightmares.
Devil, the newest film written by M. Night Shymalan (The Last Airbender), doesn't exactly scream Oscar. Combined that with the fact that Shyamalan hasn't had the greatest track record as of late and there isn't much reason to have faith in Devil.
Shyamalan made a promising start to his career with films like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, but his recent efforts have fallen flat; The Happening should be in the running for "Most Ridiculous Film Ever Made."
Luckily for audiences it seems as if things might be looking up for Shyamalan, at least as a screenwriter. Devil is definitely an improvement, both in story and dialogue when compared with his recent slew of flop films.
The movie has an interesting premise and starts out promising with the plot holding two separate, yet connected, stories.
A group of ordinary strangers consisting of a mechanic (Logan Marshall- Green, Brooklyn's Finest), an old woman (Jenny O'Hara, Big Love), a young lady (Bojana Novakovic, Edge of Darkness), a security guard (Bokeem Woodbine, Saving Grace) and a salesman (Geoffrey Arend, (500) Days of Summer) are trapped in an office-building elevator. As they start dying one-by-one, they begin to suspect that, as the title hints, Lucifer might be among them.
Meanwhile, a down-and-out detective (Chris Messina, Julie & Julia) is assigned to figure out which one is the murderer by watching the security video from outside of the elevator. As the story progresses the audience begins to suspect that his involvement with the people inside the elevator is not purely coincidental.
The film addresses the notion that nothing ever happens by chance, especially if a powerful force, like the Forsaken One, decides to walk the earth and claim a few souls in the process.
The beginning of the film is intriguing. The story and characters are introduced with a nice combination of over-the-top comedy and the suspense that made fans fall in love with Shyamalan in the first place.
Director John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine) is able to use captivating cinematography despite shooting within the confines of an elevator. Dowdle also utilizes an intense musical score in order to create an ominous mood for the film, but it can become a little much at times.
Much of the movie's effectiveness comes from the feeling of tension caused by the close quarters of the elevator. Dowdle is obviously interested in creating the same claustrophobic type of horror that was evident in Quarantine.
Of course there are certain aspects of the film that scream Shyamalan, unfortunately, in a negative way. Much of the dialogue can seem like a desperate attempt to spoon-feed the important plot points to the audience. There are certain instances in the film where the viewers will find themselves laughing and cringing in amusement when they're supposed to be screaming and shielding their eyes in terror.
The biggest strength of the film lies in Shyamalan's story, which is, while incredibly simple, also highly entertaining. The manner in which he weaves all the characters' stories together creates a satisfying twist ending that will be sure to please horror and mystery buffs alike.
Fans of Shyamalan's stories will be excited to see what he has come up with, and others will be pleasantly surprised to find that he still has the ability to create an engaging film. Audiences can only hope that this film is a sign of better things on the horizon for Shyamalan.