Devil

There’s a lot of bad mojo out there for this film and maybe it had to do with the fact that M. Night Shoppingcart was attached during the nadir of his creative enterprise. He’s endured a fair helping of hate but I’ve always loved his storytelling and I really enjoyed Devil, a film that lives up to its title in ways you don’t see coming and weaves a taut, spring loaded morality fable laced with just enough supernatural menace to keep us on edge. One stormy day in a Philadelphia high rise five strangers find themselves trapped together in a busted elevator. A young woman (Bojana Novakavic), an old woman (Jenny O’Hara), a mechanic (Logan Marshall Green), a snotty dweeb in a suit (Geoffrey Arend) and a temp security guard (Bokeem Woodbine). Outside a police detective (Chris Messina) with a tormented past races against time to get them out as they all start dying one by one. One of these five in the elevator is in fact the Devil, in a quite literal sense, and he’s killing the others off one by one when the lights flicker in and out. How do we know this? The obligatory superstitious Latino Catholic character nervously informs us, of course. Alright, this isn’t the greatest film on some fronts, the story could have been a bit more focused, there’s some third act revelations that swoop in out of nowhere and although I myself didn’t guess off the bat who was the Devil, I’ve heard many claim they did, but who knows if that’s true, film critics are notorious flakes and liars. There’s a lot to enjoy here, including those third act revelations, the final twist lands well exceptionally well with timing and pathos, the Devil has some slick dialogue when he finally does show himself and the character work is pretty good. Also, you know your cinematographer is having fun when he opens the film with a classic overhead cityscape shot… presented upside down. The man in question is legendary DOP Tak Fujimoto, whose credits include everything from Silence Of The Lambs to Pretty In Pink to Badlands to The Manchurian Candidate. He has a blast here with ballsy dolly shots, quick zooms and wide pans that make the building feel larger than it is and the elevator smaller than it is, very effective work. I’d love to hear what the abject haters of this have to say for themselves *without* mentioning Shyamalan and focusing on the film itself, because it’s pretty weak, tired and hive-minded to attack his solid, varied and excellent career just because it’s cool to do so. Devil is wicked fun, a high concept supernatural shocker that isn’t perfect but entertained the hell out of me.

-Nate Hill

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