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Devil (2010)

5 strangers are trapped in an elevator and the Devil is mysteriously amongst them. As emergency workers work frantically to free them, secrets are revealed and the passengers realize their only hope for survival is to confront their darkest sins in front of the others.

Devil (also known as The Night Chronicles: Devil) is a 2010 American supernatural horror film directed by John Erick Dowdle (The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Quarantine) and written by Brian Nelson based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable).

The basic premise revolves around 5 strangers who happen to get stuck together in an elevator which has stopped working. There’s the smarmy wise-ass salesman Vince (Geoffrey Arend), claustrophobic and slightly hot-tempered security guard Ben (Bokeem Woodbine), Jane, an elderly lady (Jenny O’Hara), mechanic Tony (Logan Marshall-Green) and a young woman named Sarah (Bojana Novakovic). They are being watched on the security camera by Detective Bowden (Chris Messina) and two security guards, one of which knows a lot about the forces at work here and narrates over the action at times.

Despite being set in an elevator for the majority of the story, we do get scenes outside of this location so it never feels too repetitive. Throughout the film we slowly get clues and identities about the 5 strangers, and the police work from the outside to try and put the pieces together as people start to die one by one. It is rated as a PG-13 so there isn’t a great deal of blood and violence, as the deaths occur during power blackouts. The order of the deaths made for a refreshing change as it was tricky to guess who was next. Trying to work out who the killer was proved impossible for me as we were fed information throughout the movie so my guess kept changing depending on the clues. As the ending is revealed I thought it was nicely tied up and definitely surprising, maybe not on a par with Shyamalan’s previous history with surprise endings but since he only came up with the idea for the film the writer Brian Nelson did a solid job with the loose ends.

Acting wise it was pretty strong all round, each person played their character well and credit to the smarmy salesman Vince (Geoffrey Arend) as I would have wanted to kill him if I was stuck in an elevator with his character. He played the annoying role perfectly! The film looked great, very crisply shot and we were treated to a few locations rather than just being stuck in the elevator. The opening credits looked superb, really liked them, a nice twist on something so simple.

At a brief 80 minutes long the film never lets up and there are no drawn out scenes which means Devil never gets dull. The way it all links together from the detective arriving on the scene to the final reveal is very good. The only real negatives come from the short runtime as it would have been nice to see a bit more of a back story to some of the characters. Perhaps even getting to see more of the kills but I guess they wanted to appeal to a younger audience in an attempt to make more money so went with a more family friendly rating. The end does make you leave your beliefs at the door; any film involving The Devil/God/Religious beliefs can polarize views and when we see who the actual Devil is then it does raise a few questions, and whilst some are answered I wanted to know more. Maybe we will get a sequel which will further explore the origins of the way the film makers interpreted their version of Satan himself but for now it’s left to us to kind of fill in the blanks.

This was the first part in ‘The Night Chronicles’ trilogy, which involves the supernatural within modern urban society. I very much look forward to the remaining films and if they are at least on a par with Devil then I’ll be very happy to check them out.

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20 Comments

  1. Mike

     /  June 28, 2012

    Overall I liked this film. The 80 minutes was the perfect run time considering the location, a small elevator. And thank god for back stories or the film may have failed. Nice write-up!

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    • Thanks Mike. Yeah it certainly never dragged and the back stories helped take us out of the elevator from time to time. Was pleasantly surprised it was as good as it was coming in on a low budget. Cheers for the comment

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      • Mike

         /  June 28, 2012

        I know this film got hit by a lot of negative criticism, but I really enjoyed it and should cover it on my blog at some time.

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        • I guess people were reluctant to embrace something with Shyamalan’s name on it, I know I was. Once it was out there that he didn’t write or direct it I think people were more (or should of been) open to it. I remember reading reviews at the time saying if his name was no where near it the film wouldn’t of received such bad press.

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  2. I was also pleasantly surprised with this movie. Didn’t really know how they were gonna pull it off with everyone just stuck in an elevator, but it really worked and there were some good scary moments. Personally I liked the blackout kills; thought it added to the air of panic and claustrophobia for the other characters.

    Great review!

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    • Yeah the kills in darkness were good as it left that few seconds for you to try and guess who was killed, how and by who. Thanks for the comment James, appreciate it.

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  3. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I just want to say… I can’t believe Geoffrey Arend is married to Christina Hendricks. He is surely the Devil.

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    • Damn – maybe he is funny in real life? Or exceedngly rich? Or maybe your right and he is Satan himself. 🙂 Shocked at that trivia, thanks for sharing!

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  4. I liked this too. Proves you don’t need a big overblown budget to make a great horror film. And, I agree with mike, more back story may have dragged on the film.

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    • I hear what your saying, I was conflicted really as I felt it just lacked something from the characters yet I liked the short run time which kept the tension ramped up thoughout. Thanks for the comment buddy.

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  5. I think 6/10 is about right for this film. It kept me guessing too but I wasn’t keen on the security guard who knew all about what was going on. I don’t think it was needed. Great review though.

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    • Yeah I think he was there to fill in the gaps for us rather than let us piece it together ourselves. The other security guard didn’t seem to care very much! Cheers for the comment mate.

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  6. I too liked this film, I know it may not be the best out there, but it’s pretty damn good, and I never understood all the negative feedback. It was fairly short, but for a movie in an elevator, I guess it had to be. Great post! 🙂

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    • Yeah, I stand by my thoughts that if Shyamalan’s name was no where near it then it would of done better. Thanks for the comment as always 🙂

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  7. theipc

     /  July 6, 2012

    I read so many negative reviews of this when it came out… then I watched it and I really liked it and I thought, what were these people expecting? I am actually surprised by all of these positive comments I read here today. I thought Devil was really good. Well – really good until that whole sappy scene in the car at the end.

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    • Glad you like it! I figured we would return to the car scene at some point with the whole note being mentioned early on. For a low budget film it’s a great watch. Some people have crazy high/stupid expectations I guess.

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  8. I dig this film. Totally underrated. Love the upside down opening. I’d put this alongside Insidious and Drag Me To Hell as one of my favorites from the last ten years.

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    • For sure, they were some cool credits!! I wouldn’t put it quite at the level of Insidious but I did like it. Drag Me To Hell, I need to watch that again, only ever seen it once. Thanks for the comment 🙂

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  9. I would have rated this film something closer to 4/10; it’s not the atrocity critics make it out to be, but it would have been better as a short film that focused solely in the elevator. The main problem is that the film never stays in the elevator long enough to build tension, whenever tension starts to build it cuts to the events occurring outside. Also, the security guard provided insight on the Devil was annoying and unnecessary. His scene with the toast was almost hilarious though.

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    • Sorry, I’m very late to this reply, I’ve been away for a while. Appreciate you stopping by, you make some very valid points. I need to re-watch this, especially since Dr. Alana Bloom is in this apparently and I love her and everything about Hannibal.

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