Monday, 20 September 2010


From the mind of M. Night Shyamalan.

The advertising campaign was such that I didn't know that this wasn't a movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan until I checked IMDB to look up some of the actors names. Incidentally nor did he write this movie, that honour going to Brian Nelson, one of the screenwriters of 30 Days Of Night. He has a sole story credit, so in other words the man who self-applied the name Night walked into a meeting and said; ' five people stuck in an elevator, one of them's the devil. Make it happen guys.' And yet his name is all over the posters, the trailers, all the pre and post movie discussion has been about Shyamalan. For a better movie then this, I might find this more objectionable, but hey perhaps precisely because of his lack of involvement, Devil has managed to avoid the maelstrom of suck that is the touch of Shyamalan and turned out a decent, watchable movie. Not high art or anything, but for a thriller it thrills, and for a horror it scares.

I don't want to get caught up in it too much, because Devil is some painfully simplistic film-making. Painting its message in broadly drawn black and white, with some year 7 Christian Union standards of sermonizing to match. God good Devil bad guys. Characters are generally thinly sketched archetypes and pretty much anything that takes place outside the elevator is a washout, with some weak slasher movie, sub-final destination kills that don't add but detract from proceedings (Maths terminology is coming back in a big way. Brace yourselves.) But despite all this, once the movie stops pretending to be the most patronizing R.E lesson you'll ever attend and we're inside the elevator and everything shuts the fuck up, its a pretty darned exciting ride. The confined space movie has been done before sure, but its a pretty solid take on it that bleeds the tension out of the situation quite impressively. It makes you very uneasy, and while perhaps making the bad guy the Devil was say an extremely unsublte, Shyamalanesque take on the idea, the execution by director John Erick Dowdle is pretty skilled in the ways of keeping you on the edge of your seat.

Of the actors the most impressive is Logan Marshall-Green, an actor who I've seen in roles on TV, but has never really made a strong mark, but he's pretty great here, maintaining your sympathy and noticeably more then anyone else bringing a real depth and relatability to his role. One hopes he should get more work on the back of this. Lead Chris Messina is good enough, but its a fairly shallow and by the numbers detective role and you know, there's only so much you can do. Elsewhere in the elevator, Bojana Novakovic is suitably hateable as the manipulative bitch per quota, and Geoffrey Arend is suitably irritating as the irritating man per quota. But if you want a movie to deliver what it promises you can do worse then Devil, I enjoyed it and is in its own right scary in places. Like I said, an enjoyable ride.

Rating: 6/10

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