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!

You’re Next (2013) – Movie review

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You’re Next (2013)

Much like The Conjuring, there was nothing particularly ‘original’ or ‘new’ in this film, but it still managed to be a fun watch. The film takes the standard thriller scenario and delivers it with a perfectionist eye  – you almost can’t help but enjoyyoure next pic 7 it. A family gathering on their parent’s Anniversary, in their country home, highlights the tensions between the brothers and their wives and girlfriends. The awkward celebration turns into a bloodbath as unseen assailants kill the family members one by one. We soon learn that there are three killers, each wearing a mask of an animal – a fox, a cat and a lamb. We also learn the girlfriend of the middle brother is an ex-survivalist and takes over defending the family she has just met. The family is pinned into the house by an assailant with a crossbow as the other two killers enter the home at different times and pick-off family members. The tension escalates and even though there is a predictable outcome, the film is exciting. If you liked High Tension (without the plot twist ending), The Strangers, or the older film, The Osterman Weekend, you can expect more of the same. For some trivia, it features a small role played by Ti West and another played by 80’s B-Movie Actress Barbara Crampton. Don’t believe the film’s own hype – there is no ’fresh twist’ ’reinvention’ ‘smart’ or anything ‘extremely terrifying’ about the film.  However, if you go in not expecting something mind-blowing, it’s a fun thriller with a heroine you’ll want to cheer for and some tense action.

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Directed by Adam Wingard
Written by Simon Barret

I give it a 3.7 out of 5 on the ‘tense suspense’ scale for thriller action films.

Vacancy (2007) – movie review

Vacancy (2007)

I wasn’t expecting too much from this film. I picked it up at my local F.Y.E., buy one, get one free, and it sat on my TV cabinet for weeks collecting dust. Last Sunday night, I finally gave it a watch. To my surprise, Vacancy is a tense thriller combining masterful suspense with white-knuckle action. A couple with a strained relationship is driving home late-night from a family event and is forced to pull off the road. With no choice, they check into a seedy, run-down, roadside motel. The motel lobby and the room look like they are straight out of the 1960’s. While Amy (Kate Beckinsale) is fuming about her husband’s short-cut, which led them to this place, David (Luke Wilson) tries to relax, turning on the television. Finding no reception, only static white filling the screen (remember those days?), he eyes a video tape alongside the TV set. He puts it in the VHS player (remember those things?) and the tape seems to be in the middle of a horrific murder scene in some violent exploitation film. On the screen, two masked killers taunt and terrorize a couple as they desperately try to defend themselves. The husband is murdered first as the wife watches in horror. He is about to turn off the film when he notices the murder on the tape has taken place in the very room they are staying in. He fast-forwards the tape and there’s a different murder on the tape, filmed in the same room. What starts as a frightening chiller, escalates into a fast-paced thriller as the two masked killers attack Amy and David. The killers like to torment and create fear by attacking the couple then retreating, leaving the couple in tears and creepy silence, as it is all filmed by hidden cameras. You’ll be sitting on the edge of your seat as the ‘Motel Manager’ and his two henchmen work to produce their newest ‘film’ and the couple fights for their survival.

 

The Reef – (2010) – movie review

The Reef – (2010)

Scuba divers off the great barrier reef are forced to swim many miles to the safety of a small island when their boat is capsized on the ocean. What they do not know is that when they start this trek, they are being hunted by the ocean’s top predator, a great white shark. It seems as though only one of the five stranded, Luke, is an experienced seafarer. It is through his POV, when he dons his goggles, that we see an underwater view of the beast that is stalking the group. The first time you see the great white materializing through the distance of the murky waters is a chilling scene. There are a few other good scares as the great white picks them off one-by-one. But there are also a few scenes that want to add human drama to the film and seem senseless. For example, when they decide that they will leave the capsized boat to swim for land – out of the clear blue, Kate decides she’s not going with them. Then about 30 seconds later, when the group has left, she yells to them, Wait, I want to come… so she jumps in the water and catches up. I know this is based on a true story but the whole scene just seemed like ridiculous fodder. Other than that and one or two other slow scenes, the film successfully ramps up the suspense as the island is spotted and becomes within swimming distance, just as the great white becomes even more aggressive. While ‘The Reef’ will never be one of my top picks, it is a chilling natural-horror style film, merit for summer entertainment.