Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Five strangers are trapped in an elevator and one of them is the Devil.
"from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan"
No words strike fear in my heart more than those words. I’m not sure that the ad campaign wizards should be using this as a selling point. If you pay attention to the opening credits you will read that the screenplay is written by Brian Nelson and it was directed by the “Dowdle brothers”, which makes one wonder, just which part of the film actually came "from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan"?
I’ve always maintained that Shyamalan is a one-hit wonder. The Sixth Sense is pretty decent, although stupid JSP felt the need to vocally predict that Willis was dead within the first 5 minutes of the film forever tarnishing my viewing experience, but the rest of Shyamalan’s output has been arguably garbage (anyone else sit through the misery that is Lady in the Water?). Devil is apparently the first of the “Night Chronicles”, a series of films written - but not directed - by the guy and it seems to be a return form (if he ever had form).
The tightly woven, claustrophobic story plays well on the small screen (I watched a bootleg on my computer). It would probably fare better as an installment of an anthology television series rather than a full-blown Hollywood production as it could easily be cut down to 30 minutes (the entire padded affair is only 75 minutes long including opening and closing credits). Still, I must confess that I was captivated enough to stick around to the end. I would like to toot my own horn and note that I figured out the “Devil” the moment they all climbed into the elevator. I’m only noting this because I rarely predict squat when I’m watching a movie. I won’t spoil it though, I’m no stupid JSP. Devil includes one of those characters who are able to size up what’s going on immediately without first considering other more likely alternatives. In Devil this character is a Hispanic security guard who is watching the events unfold on a security camera. Within two minutes he proclaims that the Devil gathers and punishes those who have shown themselves to be capable of evil. Thanks for spelling it out for us dopes.
I'm not M. Night, but I sure look like him
Devil is a drama more than anything with the horror elements taking a leisurely backseat sipping a cool beverage. There are one or two mild jump-scares but most of the shots in the film feature each character menacingly casting glances leaving us to exclaim with faux confidence, “Okay, I bet he’s the Devil! No wait, I bet she’s the Devil!” I’m certain the director probably told each actor that he/she was the Devil and to peek around accordingly. The cast is made up of actors you’ve seen before but can’t place. M. Night wisely eshews appearing in the film although one of the main characters could be his doppelganger. Good old fashioned fun if you're in need of a quickie.