Yes, this is the movie that takes place in an elevator – not to be mistaken with Elevator, which is also on Netflix and suspiciously has almost the exact same poster art. Devil is based on a story written by M. Night Shyamalan, but directed by John Erick Dowdle. This is one fantastic horror thriller. Set in a Philadelphia high-rise, it feeds off the claustrophobic setting.
The film begins with an upside-down view of Philadelphia which is a stunning, beautiful shot. Naturally, the inverted image is to signify that something is wrong with the world but it is no less impressive in its skewed view. We enter a large office building and witness the hustle and bustle of the work week. Five passengers enter an elevator which gets stuck on the 22nd floor. It isn’t long before they get on each others nerves and turn on one another. Building security, watching them on monitors, tells the passengers to settle down and they will set them free shortly. As a maintenance worker tries to get the lift reset, the lights go out. When the lights come back on, one of the passengers is dead. Meanwhile, detectives are investigating a death outside the building. They soon turn their attentions to the passengers in the elevator. The film turns into a tense thriller as the detectives try and figure out who in the elevator could be the killer, before they all wind up dead.
I’m amazed when a film that is mostly dialogue can hold my attention. It builds tension as each clue surfaces and each attempt to get into the car fails. Every time the lights in the car go out, you know something bad is going to happen. The Latino security guard adds atmosphere by relaying a story his grandma told him about the Diablo. His story is dispensed at optimum times to ratchet up the tension. Subtle supernatural visions are weaved throughout the film adding to the creepiness. There is a sub-plot about the detective and the death of his family, that unveils slowly building another layer of mystery to the film. The only drawback is the surprise twist, which wasn’t so surprising, and I question whether the film even needed it at all. The film and script was quite strong without it.
I know people are down on Shyamalan these days, but this film is top-notch entertainment – close in quality to his early works, The Sixth Sense and Signs. Perhaps it is good that he handed over the directing (and screenplay) to others. The actors all play fantastic believable parts – not an easy task in a dialogue heavy film. There is not one weak link in the actors. This is a film worth watching.
Great supernatural-suspense-thriller worth a watch! I give it a high rating.
I give it 4.5 creepy co-worker killings on the high-rise from hell scale!