Thursday, 3 February 2011

Devil (2010)

So the devil wants to torture souls and take the worse humans back down to hell, which means staying in a broken elevator with a group and picking them all off one by one. Of course.

Based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan (as part one of the proposed Night Chronicles trilogy detailing supernatural events within a modern day setting), Devil isn't a great movie but it's a slight return to form for the imaginative storyteller.

Having said that, let's not be unfair and forget that this was actually directed by someone else, John Erick Dowdle (who previously handled The Poughkeepsie Tapes and Quarantine), and that the screenplay was developed from Shyamalan's story by Brian Nelson, who previously scripted David Slade's two best movies (to date).

Everyone involved here does a decent job, the cast all play things with serious faces even as things get ever more unbelievable (Chris Messina is a solid lead as the investigating detective and from those stuck in the lift I must mention Geoffrey Arend, who I always enjoy seeing on screen), but it's not too long before the inherent absurdity and minimalism of the central concept begins to undo things.

Inevitably, tension winds down as opposed to up with the decreasing number of suspects who could allegedly be the lord of darkness. It's also a bit of a stretch to see how characters end up linking the, admittedly spooky, events to the legend of the devil coming up to our level to claim people due to get uncomfortably hot in the fiery dwellings down below.

It's not a bad little supernatural thriller but it never really turns into anything great or unmissable. Ironically, as it's also part of the concept, it can never really break free of it's self-imposed confines. Still, I have not been deterred from seeing the next instalments in the series.


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