Rated PG-13 for violence and disturbing images, thematic material and some language including sexual references, 80 minutes
Despite good premise, this "Devil" is still bad
Satan always stirs things up and makes for decent entertainment, after all it’s worked well over the years in such films as “Rosemary’s Baby and “The Exorcist.” The main difference between those films and the new M. Night Shyamalan-produced film is that those films were actually scary good. In spite of a creepy premise and a handful of decent jumps, the new supernatural thriller “Devil” is silly, cheap and contrived and is nothing more than a conventional mystery film wrapped about the Devil and human sins.
The set up is actually quite simple. Five people – a mechanic (Logan Marshall-Green), an Old Woman (Jenny O’Hara), a Young Woman (Bojana Novakovic), a security guard (Bokeem Woodbine) and a salesman (Geoffrey Arend) are trapped in a high-rise elevator. Weird things start to happen. A detective (Chris Messina) comes to check things out. One of them isn’t who they say are and is the human form of the devil to torment those with sins. The five people are brought together for a reason, one that will be revealed at the climax.
“Devil” has a chilling premise: the devil taking human form and tormenting someone until they own up to their sins. One of the 5 trapped in the elevator is Satan, and it’s up to the audience to sit through a contrived, laughable horror film to try to figure out who it is. The clues are spread throughout and won’t come as a big surprise even if you seen the trailers for the film several times, just know the filmmakers do so much to wrap the unexpected around the expected that it becomes rather silly and predictable.
Directors and co-writers John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle, the filmmaking brothers behind such horror films as “Quarantine” and “The Poughkeepsie Tapes,” infuse the film with a few well-placed jumpy thrills here and there, but they don’t do much in developing Shyamalan’s story or creating any interesting characters or even empathy for the characters. The uneven story also falters when it attempts to add some cheesy humor in the mix, particularly with two guards (Jacob Vargas and Matt Craven) who watch everything on camera and make ridiculous comments about the situation.
It would also help that the production quality on the film looks cheap (the photography and lighting are especially bad) and the largely unknown actors (O’Hara is a familiar character actress who’s been around for years, while some may remember Messina from “Julie & Julia”) don’t do much with the underwritten characters their given.
Many people I know don’t like to watch movies about Satan, it scares them too much. I would stay away from the forgettable horror film “Devil” not necessarily because it’s too scary, but not scary enough.