This weekend Barry Graham & I caught up with Devil, in which five strangers get trapped together in an elevator in a Philadelphia office building.
Through some rather laborious exposition, we are given to understand that one of these shady characters is actually the Devil in human form, looking to torment & then kill the others for their past nastiness. Now & then the lights flicker off, & when they come back on some new grisliness has taken place. While the fire department works to free them, a police detective (Chris Messina) with a tragic past of his own watches the whole gruesome spectacle unfold on the security camera.
The director is John Erick Dowdle, working from a script by Brian Nelson, but the story was concocted by M. Night Shyamalan, who also co-produced, & it carries a heavy charge of his sensibility. Yet perhaps thanks to the collaborators, & also to its comparatively unambitious goals, Devil doesn’t misfire like most of Shyamalan’s post-Sixth Sense efforts have.
It’s possible that the film owes something to the 1983 Dutch thriller The Lift, & the premise is basically the same as that of one of my all-time favorite Twilight Zone episodes, “Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?” (&, for that matter, as Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians). The characters are stock figures in the Golden Age of Television mode, but they’re written & played with some heart, & the film is generously restocked with red herrings several times in its brief length. It’s no classic, but I enjoyed this hokum more than I expected to. Also, it has a really striking opening title sequence.
By the way, my post on Easy A (below) was picked up this weekend as a guest review by Jabcat On Movies. The site is worth checking out.