Originally Posted by Michael Elliott
John Erick Dowdle
Simple story of five strangers entering an elevator when it breaks down and the group begins to get picked off one by one. A Detective (Chris Messina), dealing with his own haunted past, watches from a security cam trying to find out what's going on but soon they begin to realize they're working with a force they can't stop. Right off the bat I'm going to say this is the most disappointing movie of the year. I say this because the story itself, by M. Night Shyamalan, is so simple in structure that you could do so many great things with it.
The story itself is a very good one as being stuck with strangers while they're being picked off by the devil is something interesting but what really hurts the film is its direction. For the life of me I'm not sure why Shyamalan himself didn't direct this as the small structure is something that I'm sure he could have handled and I think it would have helped his career get back on track. This film runs a very quick 72-minutes without the end credits so everything pretty much happens at a fast pace.
I really enjoyed that they did it this way but the direction doesn't create enough atmosphere or tension early on. I think this here is what really brings the film down because being in a tight spot like an elevator should leave you feeling claustrophobic but this never happens. As the movie went along I couldn't help but find myself enjoying the characters and the story but at the same time thinking to myself that this thing should be so much better. I think better direction would have really helped this thing because there so many good things in the screenplay that needed to be explored.
The screenplay itself plays out in a simple fashion but I enjoyed the small back stories given to all the characters and how these come into play as the story works itself out. The performances aren't anything that's going to bring Oscars but they're good enough for this type of films with Messina leading the way as the Detective. Jenny O'Hara, Bokeem Woodbine, Geoffrey Arend, Logan Marshall-Green and Bojana Novakovic play the people trapped and I enjoyed each of them.
Shyamalan's name is all over this thing and I think the story of his is a very good one but what makes this film worth viewing is one sequence that I won't spoil. When the twist comes in the story it really took me by surprise and I must admit that it sent cold shivers throughout my body and I thought it was extremely effective. This part of the film certainly pulled the rug out from under me and it certainly made everything else worth sitting through. I'm sure most of the movie was building up to this one moment and for me it was extremely effective. With that being said, DEVIL is a good little movie but at the same time you can't help but say it should have been much, much better.