Saturday, July 2, 2011
Devil, written by Brian Nelson and M. Night Shyamalan, directed by John Erick Dowdle, starring Chris Messina (Detective Bowden), Jenny O'Hara (Old Woman), Jacob Vargas (Ramirez), Bokeem Woodbine (Guard), Bojana Novakovic (Young Woman), Geoffrey Arend (Salesman), Logan Marshall-Green (Mechanic) (2010): Toronto pretty much stands in for Philadelphia in this first installment of the pompously named 'Night Chronicles' (for M. Night Shyamalan, who provides the story and then lets someone else write the screenplay and direct). Five people get trapped on an elevator. But one of them is the Devil!
The somewhat laborious, apparently fictional 'legend' that we're told this whole elevator scenario arises from is the idea that the Devil occasionally leaves Hell to torment the damned on Earth before killing them and taking their souls back with him to Hell. Thankfully, a religious security guard who knows this legend is around to fill us in on the details, which become increasingly baroque as the telling unspools.
Still, the movie remains pretty straightforward, and a big step up in quality from M. Night's more recent writer/director botches. There are some genuine thrills and some spooky moments, though even at about 85 minutes the movie seems long, like a padded one-hour TV episode. Is there a crazy twist at the end? Well, sort of, though you'll probably have seen it coming. The Devil, he is a sly one! Lightly recommended.