Devil (2010) – movie review

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Devil (2010)

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 Devil_film_posterbuilding 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.

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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!

13 thoughts on “Devil (2010) – movie review

  1. I liked this movie too. Don’t understand all of the hate but Is suppose it’s part of the M. Night backlash that he cannot put out good product these days. I find myself re-visiting Devil every once in a while with my kids and we always have a blast. If enough time passes they forget who the “Devil” really is.

    I like Dowdle, too. He did Quarantine and The Poughkeepsie Tapes. good stuff. He’s talented.
    Good job on the review, Michael! Thanks, man.

    • Damn, I keep forgetting I want to see the Poughkeepsie Tapes. I haven’t seen it on Netflix or On Demand and last time I looked on Amazon it was a bit too much $$$. I’d like to see some more films by Dowdle.

    • Agreed. M. Night was getting to much hate leftover from fans’ recent displeasures. This film was brilliantly crafted from the eerie upside-down and solidly-scored opening scene all the way to the mid-execution/action and the perfect ending!

  2. M. Night Shyamalan sucks! Well, I gave up on him after I say through The Village. My taste as a kid may not have been amazing…I loved Wrong Turn and Jeepers Creepers, which I have not watched again to see if they were actually good or not….but point is, I despised that film. Therefore when I see his name attached to this in 2010, I wasn’t all that interested. Being that it is a different director and since you seem to love the living hell of it…I think that I should give it a watch!

    • Yeah, I feel the same but I still thing The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs are awesome. That’s why I don’t get too attached to directors, they can really go down hill when they make it – they either get too preachy or just lose track of what made their early work good. I watched Jeepers Creepers the other night and Wrong Turn a few months ago – I still like them both. There’s a part of me that likes serious style horror that plays close to reality and there’s another part of me that likes funhouse/ spookhouse type of horror that is just fun with a black comedy feel – all the Freddy films, the over-the-top gore flicks, etc all fall into the later category.

  3. I’m sharing your stuff on Twitter. Are you on Twitter? I’m John’s Horror Corner @MFFHorrorCorner. Find me, tag me…I’ll help you promote!

  4. Definately a surprising one this, used the simple set up very effectively I thought and had some decent shocks and jumps in it. A lot to be said sometimes for a basic idea and well told.

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