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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Devil - Recommended



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#1 of 12 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted December 26 2010 - 09:54 AM

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D E V I L


Studio: Universal/The Night Chronicles

Year: 2010

Length:  1 hr 21 mins

Genre: Horror/M. Night Shyamalan


Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1


BD Resolution: 1080p

BD Video Codec: VC-1 (@ an average 33 mbps)

Color/B&W: Color


Audio:

English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 3.0 mbps)(goes up during heavy scenes)

Spanish DTS 5.1

French DTS 5.1

English DVS 2.0


Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish


Film Rating: PG-13 (Violence, Disturbing Images, Thematic Material, Language)


Release Date: December 21, 2010


Starring:  Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Green, Geoffrey Arend, Bojana Novakovic, Jenny O’Hara, Bokeem Woodbine, Jacob Vargas and Matt Craven


Screenplay by Brian Nelson

Directed by: John Erick Dowdle

Story by:  M.Night Shyamalan


Film Rating:    3/5


Devil is a surprisingly effective low-budget horror movie, and a minor return to form by M. Night Shyamalan, whose hand is evident in this production even though he is not scripting or directing this time out.  Clocking in at less than 90 minutes, and eschewing gore and heavy CGI, the film tells a simple, scary story about five passengers trapped in an elevator.  And one of them is not what he or she appears to be, as the publicity has already made clear for anyone watching the film.  The story owes a bit of a debt to Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” (as Shyamalan has publicly acknowledged), and the dialogue ranges from the clunky to the downright silly.  But I have to admit, the movie does work.  It has a few good scares in it, a few surprises, and the solid sense of overall design that Shyamalan regularly brings to his productions.  Made for a low budget in Canada, with good performances by a lower tier cast, the movie has actually been quite successful, in spite of essentially being dropped into the box office in September of this year.  It should be noted that this film is the first in a series of three horror films to be produced under Shyamalan’s banner, The Night Chronicles.  It’s not a bad place to start.


I should also note that I have waited an extra day to post this review, since it just didn’t feel right posting a review of a movie called Devil on Christmas Day…


Devil has been released on standard definition DVD and Blu-ray as of this past Tuesday.   The Blu-ray contains a high-definition transfer of the film along with very few extras – about 4 minutes of deleted scenes and about 7 minutes of featurette material, all presented in high definition.  Further Blu-ray functionality is also part of the Blu-ray disc, including pocket BLU, My Scenes, an online ticker and trailers, as well as D-Box functionality for those people who have that capability. 

                                                       

VIDEO QUALITY   4/5

Devil is presented in a solid 1080p AVC 2.40:1 transfer that has some satisfyingly deep black levels, and shows a variety of environments and flesh tones with aplomb.  Tak Fujimoto’s dark cinematography is served well by this transfer.  I should note that I am watching the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone is watching the film on a larger monitor and is having issues, please post them on this thread.



AUDIO QUALITY   4/5

Devil is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English, along with standard DTS 5.1 mixes in French and Spanish and an English DVS track.  Much of this film is about the dialogue between the characters in the elevator, but there’s some effective use of directionality and surrounds, and whenever anything creepy is happening, the subwoofer joins in.


SPECIAL FEATURES      1 ½/5

The Blu-Ray presentation of Devil comes with very few extras, totaling just over 10 minutes of material, albeit in high definition..


Deleted Scenes –  (3:56 Total, 1080p) Three deleted scenes are included in high definition, providing more detailed introductions to three of the primary characters in the film.  These scenes are really not necessary to the film, as the characters are best introduced to us in the elevator – and one of the scenes really doesn’t make any sense at all.


The Story (2:32, 1080p) – It would be generous to call this a featurette, since most of the running time is taken up with clips from the movie.  There are a couple of interview snippets with the filmmakers talking about the basic story of the film.


The Devil’s Meeting– (2:26, 1080p)  This featurette also is loaded with film clips (pretty much the same ones as in the first featurette), but it does have a few choice words from Ysamur Flores of UCLA about the origin of the featurette’s title concept in South America.


The Night Chronicles – (2:15, 1080p)  After yet another repetition of the film clips, there’s a few brief snippets with M. Night Shyamalan and his team about the kinds of movies he wants to make with his company.   An apt comparison is made to The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.


BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events.   


My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.


pocket BLU– The latest Blu-ray features of phone apps and social networking are included here for viewers with the right iPhones, Blackberries and other current hardware.


D-Box– The disc is enabled with this technology, which will certainly come in handy for all the subwoofer hits when they happen here.


The film and special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish.  The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu.  Further, when you first put the Blu-ray in the player, you’ll see various trailers from BD-Live, including Robin Hood and the usual Universal Blu-ray trailer.




IN THE END...

Devil is an effective low-budget horror movie that gets right to the chase and doesn’t try to overwhelm the viewer with CGI or excessive gore.  It’s a minor return to form by M. Night Shyamalan, and a good omen for the two additional movies intended for production under his banner here.  The Blu-ray disc holds a solid high definition transfer of the picture and sound, albeit with very skimpy extras.  Fans of Shyamalan’s best work, like The Sixth Sense, are recommended to pick this up.  More casual viewers will want to rent this, but they may be pleasantly surprised at the quality here.


Kevin Koster

December 26, 2010. 



#2 of 12 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted December 27 2010 - 12:15 PM

I was kind of leery about this, as I'm not a huge horror film fan, but it has an interesting premise.  Based on your review it doesn't sound like there is a lot of horror-type gore.  Would you consider this more of a thriller than a horror film, or is it a bit of both?



#3 of 12 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted December 27 2010 - 02:20 PM

^ I saw it a couple months back but I don't remember any gore.



#4 of 12 OFFLINE   peterjanni

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Posted December 27 2010 - 05:22 PM

I'm not sure why people keep referring to Devil as an M. Night film, since he neither wrote the screenplay or directed.  The director of this film, John Erick Dowdle, previously, did Quarantine and should be given his proper credit.  LIkewise, the writer, who previously did 30 days of night and hard candy.


#5 of 12 OFFLINE   Paul D G

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Posted December 27 2010 - 07:27 PM

Night wrote the story and his name was all over the ads for this film, so I can understand why many thought it was directed by him.


Depends on your definition of gore.  Will you see blood?  Yes.  Will you see someone get decapitated with a stream of blood hosing down everyone in sight?  No.



#6 of 12 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted December 27 2010 - 08:34 PM

There is a mild amount of gore in the film.  A little blood, a quick view here or there of anything more.  Nothing past a proper PG-13 rating.


I consider this a horror film more than a thriller or suspense film due to the subject matter, and the repeated trick of turning the lights out on the characters and the viewers.  The intent is more to scare the audience than it is to generate suspense.

Regardless of the director and writer's past credits, this film is very much a production of M. Night Shyamalan through his production company The Night Chronicles.  It is his story, and he selected the personnel involved.   If this were a production inititiated by the Dowdles, or an original story by Brian Nelson, this would be a different matter.  But it isn't.  It's Night's show all the way, and he makes that clear in the brief featurette that addresses this issue.  I see this as similar to George Lucas productions where he comes up with the story and produces the movie but it's directed and scripted by somebody else on the set.



#7 of 12 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 27 2010 - 11:09 PM

Just watched this yesterday.


It combines elements of being horror and thriller.


In the end, I thought the film was mildly entertaining,

though nothing memorable.


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#8 of 12 OFFLINE   AllTheRage

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Posted December 28 2010 - 03:04 AM

I think it was a good horror movie. I liked how it didn't use excessive gore (just a little blood as previously mentioned) nor any excessive CGI (if any). It ran on an interesting enough of a premise that kept me attention throughout.  I definitely see an And Then There Were None influence, now that it's been mentioned as well. This isl at the every least worth renting. It's to bad there isn't much as far as special features go.


#9 of 12 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted December 28 2010 - 03:23 AM

Devil was ,y second favorite film last year behind Inception.  It reminded me tonnnns of 10 little Indians (AKA And then there were none) and Cube, also a Canadian production.

http://en.wikipedia....There_Were_None

http://en.wikipedia....iki/Cube_(film)


What did it for me more than  the story (the both guard coming up with the clues seemed very clunky) was the fantastic cinematography and especially the score.


I am FURIOUS that I cannot get this score on CD or download anywhere, I loved it a lot!  I have even written to the composer asking to buy a copy somehow with no response =(


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#10 of 12 OFFLINE   peterjanni

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Posted December 28 2010 - 08:32 AM



Originally Posted by Sam Posten 

Devil was ,y second favorite film last year behind Inception.  It reminded me tonnnns of 10 little Indians (AKA And then there were none) and Cube, also a Canadian production.

http://en.wikipedia....There_Were_None

http://en.wikipedia....iki/Cube_(film)


What did it for me more than  the story (the both guard coming up with the clues seemed very clunky) was the fantastic cinematography and especially the score.


I am FURIOUS that I cannot get this score on CD or download anywhere, I loved it a lot!  I have even written to the composer asking to buy a copy somehow with no response =(



Curious that you mention Cube since Vincent Natali's prior work to this was a supernatural short about 3 people in an elevator called Elevated.


Originally Posted by Kevin EK 

There is a mild amount of gore in the film.  A little blood, a quick view here or there of anything more.  Nothing past a proper PG-13 rating.


I consider this a horror film more than a thriller or suspense film due to the subject matter, and the repeated trick of turning the lights out on the characters and the viewers.  The intent is more to scare the audience than it is to generate suspense.

Regardless of the director and writer's past credits, this film is very much a production of M. Night Shyamalan through his production company The Night Chronicles.  It is his story, and he selected the personnel involved.   If this were a production inititiated by the Dowdles, or an original story by Brian Nelson, this would be a different matter.  But it isn't.  It's Night's show all the way, and he makes that clear in the brief featurette that addresses this issue.  I see this as similar to George Lucas productions where he comes up with the story and produces the movie but it's directed and scripted by somebody else on the set.


Bottom line, Kevin, you don't give the writer or director any credit and last time I checked those were the key people in determining authorship of a film.  Since when are reviewers supposed to be press agents and echo what's in an EPK?


#11 of 12 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted December 28 2010 - 09:18 AM

Peter, please look at the top of the review, and you'll find credits listed for John Erick Dowdle and Brian Nelson.


I'm sorry that you feel the review is something akin to an EPK, but I think if you look over my writing here, you'll find that not to be the case.


This particular movie was produced by Shyamalan through his company The Night Chronicles, it is built from his story, set in his usual locale of Philadelphia and even makes use of the best cinematographer he's worked with, Tak Fujimoto.   To ignore all of this and give the primary credit elsewhere would not be an accurate description of what happened on this film.  Given that the filmmakers discuss The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents as a model, it's not far off to think of this movie and the other two that are coming as part of a series of "M. Night Shyamalan Presents" movies.  And the same way that Rod Serling and Alfred Hitchcock's tastes, sensibilities, and storytelling dominated the earlier anthologies, Shyamalan's dominate this one.



#12 of 12 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted July 13 2011 - 05:22 AM

I am FURIOUS that I cannot get this score on CD or download anywhere, I loved it a lot!  I have even written to the composer asking to buy a copy somehow with no response =(

THANKS TO NEIL MIDDLEMISS FOR THE HEADS UP, Devil Limited edition Soundtrack is released! ORDERED!!!! http://www.varesesar...64/Devil/Detail http://theseconddisc...trada-and-more/ Note that you can hear & download a few tracks by going to the first link, including the main title!

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