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Devil (movie)

A 2010 movie and the First film in M. Night Shyamalan's The Night Chronicles

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Diabolical elevator or possession?

  • Dec 27, 2010
**1/2 out of ****

M. Night Shyamalan is in desperate need of a career changer. Anything-even if it's a film he merely produces instead of penning and helming. Penning in particular is one thing Shyamalan hasn't been that good at recently, although I have no problem with the man's directorial style. "Devil" is a film that has the premise of a Shyamalan film, but since he didn't actually direct or write it, it lacks his signature style. Perhaps that is for the better, since Shyamalan hasn't made a good film after "Signs". However, "Devil" is the best thing that Shyamalan has been associated with for a long time. While he may not have directed it, there's a hint of Shyamalan in every thrill and in every shot. This is something that didn't come out of the man's mind, but rather out of someone else's (that someone being a man who thinks a lot like Shyamalan). I have no problem with "Devil" wanting to provide some solid low-budget thrills, and I have no problem with its existence. Actually, it's better than it probably should be. While the fascinating premise almost goes to complete waste, there were moments where "Devil" seemed to know what it was doing. I can't criticize it for that. However, it's also easy to decipher. "Devil" is an intense guessing game; a film that thinks it's a hell of a lot smarter than it actually is. The real problem with "Devil" is that it provides a few good thrills, and that's about it. The outcome is predictable, and the "villain" is as well. It could have been such an awesome film, but it spends a lot of time on bland dialogue and mediocre performances. And I don't think an excess of unneeded content is going to help it a whole lot. In fact, I'd think it would do the opposite. But looking on the bright side, "Devil" was better than I expected it would be. I expected it to be a decent and forgettable thriller, and what do you know: that's exactly what it is. But "Devil" is entertaining enough to make me WANT to give the sequel a try, and that's something I never thought I would do. The series sounds promising, but then again so did "Devil". Perhaps the final installment will be the best, given the circumstances. But as it is, I can neither recommend nor prevent you from seeing this Shyamalan-produced supernatural thriller. It will appeal to the people that go into it for its concept, although then again I imagine some will walk out disappointed. But one thing is for sure: I enjoyed watching it...for the most part. It's definitely flawed, and it has many limits, but it's a decent thriller. And we don't get enough of those as it is. Yet "Devil" is neither a breath of fresh air nor a boring trifle. Convenient.

The premise: Five strangers get stuck in an elevator, and one of them is apparently the Devil. Just before all of this, a suicide jumped off the building in which the elevator resides. In the hand of the victim is a rosary. We then "meet" the strangers, who are everything a stranger should be; bland and placed in a situation where we're supposed to give a damn about the lot. However, given the premise, one of them has to be Satan himself. So the elevator breaks down. Luckily, there is communication on one side of the microphone (which is that of the police and operators, who can send messages to the victims (who can hear them) although they cannot hear the victims). This means that whatever goes on between the strangers must be interpreted purely through the observations of the bystanders. So as you can expect, a lot happens for a film about five people stuck in an elevator. However, I advise you that it goes something along the lines of: people start dying, people start panicking, and lots of diabolical stuff goes on. For a film set in an elevator, it delivers half of the thrills that it promises. There were some PRETTY darn good jump scenes, I must admit, although there should have been more demonic illusions. That would have made "Devil" truly scary. As for the story...well, there isn't really a story at all. Of course, there's stuff going on outside of the elevator, but the metal rectangle seems to be the center of attention none the less. It's a guessing game, and it's pretty decent for what it "promises". However, I didn't walk out feeling completely satisfied. Dare I say, some moments didn't have to be in the thing. It's short as it is, but you've got to make the dialogue more interesting or else I am bound to complain! I mean, really. Its five strangers in an elevator, I know, but it could have been more interesting when they actually began to SPEAK to each-other. Nevertheless, the thrills that feel real are the ones that make this movie entertaining. It's cheesy as hell, but entertaining. And before you see it, try to predict which person is the devil. I'm sure that you'll get it right off the bat.

Mediocre performances in a mostly mediocre film. That's fitting I guess. The only "awesome" person is Geoffrey Arend, who I know from last year's "500 Days of Summer". Arend stuck out in that film as a minor, but funny sort of guy. In "Devil", he tries to put on that sort of charm for a second coming of potential awesome, but fails to create anything above or below mediocrity. Needless to say, he made me want to watch this a little bit more than I already did. The rest of the cast includes Bokeem Woodbine, Jenny O'Hara, Logan Marshall-Green, and Bojana Novakovic. Each of these actors plays a stranger respectively, and all of them perform at the same pace and quality. The fact that character development comes in a huge portion of the way into the film is kind of sad, and I never cared about these people anyways. Were they likable? No, but they weren't supposed to be. It's all a part of the "random people get stuck in an elevator" premise that seems to run this film so darn well. It's carrying it out with exceptional performances that seems to be the problem, and this film nearly disappoints in that sense. But it doesn't quite fail, as the decent mediocrity of the acting seems to fit in well with the mediocrity of the film. And for that I am somewhat thankful.

"Devil" looks great. It looks like a Shyamalan film on its own. It makes me think: did he shoot and/or direct this for a little bit and then let John Erick Dowdle handle the rest? It doesn't fee completely Shyamalan, but the concept it something that only "the man who heard voices" would come up with (and nearly screw up). Nevertheless, it's as I said: "Devil" is better than whatever Shyamalan has been associated with recently, and that's sort of a good thing when you think about it. There's not much appealing about "Devil" aside from the few good thrills it delivers, but it manages to be pretty entertaining throughout due to its predictable but exciting little guessing game. The music is great, the film looks good, and it's all on a relatively low budget. And low budget thrills are always moderately interesting, right? Last time I checked they were. Another thing (before I forget) that seems Shyamalan-inspired is the themes. Shyamalan is clearly a religious man (as he expressed very clearly in "Signs"), so no wonder "Devil" features a villain on the other side of the block. The Devil is in fact the villain, but he seems to possess a human host instead of being the potentially mutilated, CGI-induced bastard that he could have been. Maybe it's better off that way, since we all know how crappy Shyamalan's monsters can look (refer to the aliens of "Signs" and the lawn-wolves of "Lady in the Water"). Nevertheless, "Devil" is more engaging than it should be, and I will watch "Reincarnation"; just for the hell of it. Perhaps the sequel will be better, who knows. Or perhaps it will be worse. Only time will truly tell, and I can't wait for time to catch up with me and the rest of "Devil's" audience.

"Devil" is an excellent example of why Shyamalan may not be completely ruined. He ALWAYS-and I mean always-has good ideas in his head. But this time around, he let someone else try to execute it. And it didn't go over much better than it would it Shyamalan himself were to helm it. I don't have a problem with what he wants to create here. But if Shyamalan thinks his involvement helped this film at all, then he's made a grave mistake. How can a movie be "good" when the characters, scares, and plot are so bland, bland, bland? I've got to ask that question, and this time I want a GOOD answer. I know that "Devil" will divide audiences. There are those who will actually enjoy it for what it is, and then there are those who will regret watching it to begin with. I'm sort of in the middle; like most people are. I don't know whether to like "Devil" or to laugh at it. Perhaps I should try my hardest to do both. Hell, while watching it, I kind of did. And you know what: it felt kind of good. No, it DEFINITELY felt good. Seldom have I watched a thriller which has divided me this much, and maybe that's why mediocrity such as "Devil" exists. Or maybe it's because people will give Shyamalan and his crew the money that he desires when he agrees to fund/create these films. For the sake of mystery perhaps? Shyamalan's films have always had a sort of ominous flavor to them. "Devil", his newest bad-of-surprises, might as well be no different. It's every bit as decent as it should be.

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December 30, 2010
Great review, i was a little let down with this film but I love the idea behind it. I liked it a bit more than you but it was a let down.
December 31, 2010
Really? I'm kind of surprised that one who likes it even the tiniest bit more than I do would consider it a "let down".
December 27, 2010
This was one of those movies that started out decently enough and slowly lost much of its strength the longer it went on and it had some good devices that they didn't do anything with it. It was easy to see who or what was behind the event. I believe I gave this one 2.5 out of 5 stars. I need to rewatch this one of this days. Great review!
December 27, 2010
I don't know. I wouldn't re-watch it unless I absolutely had to. It was OK for a one-time-watch, but that's about it.
December 27, 2010
I liked "Signs" and "Unbreakable" quite a bit and I own those movies. This was better than Last Airbender though; since it had a different directing team.
December 28, 2010
I heard "The Last Airbender" was horrible. However, if it's THAT bad-and I mean like LANDMARK bad-then it's probably worth seeing just for that XD
December 28, 2010
you're like me....the worst it gets, the more curious I am! LOL! Happy New Year!
December 28, 2010
Thanks, Will.
More Devil (2010 movie) reviews
review by . September 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
2 ½ Stars: This Shyamalan Elevator Shaft is Going Down....
Despite the bitter taste the name “M. Night Shyamalan” leaves in my mouth these days (because of "The Last AirBender”), I’ve decided to check out the Shyamalan hatched-up idea “Devil” since it was directed by “Quarantine” directors Drew and John Erick Dowdle which I thought was decent for a remake. “Devil” is scripted by Brian Nelson and truth be told, while the atmosphere feels slightly “Shyamalan”, the film is more a …
review by . March 16, 2011
I am not very familiar with the works of M. Night Shyamalan, but I am looking to be. Devil is not directed by Shyamalan, but it has his name attached to it and I'm sure that turned a lot of people off this movie. It may seem kind of hip to make fun of him right now, but you look at The Last Airbender and The Happening and say he doesn't deserve it. However, Devil is one of the better works he has had his name attached to. It has laughable acting and a bad script, but it has a promising …
review by . December 31, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      DEVIL      When I first heard about this film I was excited because I have always found these types of movies entertaining. M. Night Shyamalan was on board here as a producer and also came up with this I believe so I was interested to say the least. I heard many things about this movie, some good some bad so I had to check it out. After watching this I have to say I liked more than I thought but it wasn't what I expected. I was actually expecting …
review by . September 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
It starts with a suicide. A sign of the devil's presence. When he comes, it is to torment a few select people before taking their souls. This old-world religious myth is brought to a modern day Philadelphia. Five strangers get on an elevator, only to get stuck 30 floors up. As time lengthens in the tight enclosed space, the passengers' tempers start to flare. And when the lights flicker, blood is drawn. A who-done-it suspense wrapped up in a classic sci-fi atmosphere.      …
review by . September 29, 2010
In many ways, DEVIL is simply a bloated episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE or ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS. It could easily have been told in a 60 minute TV episode (including commercials). Apparently this tale "sprung" from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan...and I like the inclination to tell little scary "short stories" via a film series. However, I think I might like the idea even better if this became, let's say, an hour long series on Showtime. DEVIL is so modest in scale and ambition …
review by . December 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      Although there are many things wrong with this movie it does in a way keeps itself interesting for the audience. "Devil" wants to be a product of fear and it succeeds at one point with it's suspense but towards the end it gets lazy, predictable and boring. The first thing you notice wrong is the story from the first 5 minutes of the movie. You got cops who don't apply the usual methods in those situations not to mention you got a body falling from 35th …
Quick Tip by . January 18, 2011
Devil = Speed + Some Supernatural Stuff - Sandra Bullock. The fact that M Night got me again is completely my fault.
Quick Tip by . December 31, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This film is far from the best ever and that is a little disappointing, it had the potential to be a classic. Still this is not as bad as some think and is worth a rental at least, it has some good special features so that is always a plus. Also while it may be a little predictable it does not try to over do anything, like that they did that.
Quick Tip by . January 27, 2011
I was actually surprised at how good it was. The story was focused and tight, they kept the scope fairly small, and it pretty much delivered what it promised. As far as well done horror films with religious themes of redemption and damnation, I'd have to rate this up there with Frailty.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


  • Opens Friday, September 17, 2010
  • PG-13
    Violence, disturbing images, thematic material and some language including sexual references
  • The first in a series of collaborations from Media Rights Capital and M. Night Shyamalan comes in the form of Devil, a supernatural thriller based on an idea by the enigmatic filmmaker. Going off of a script by Brian Nelson is Quarantine director John Erick Dowdle, who handles producing duties with his brother Drew.
  • Cast: Chris Messina, Geoffrey Arend, Logan Marshall-Green, Bojana Novakovic, Jenny O'Hara
  • Director: John E. Dowdle
  • Genres: ThrillerSupernatural Thriller
  • Poster art for "The Night Chronicles: Devil."
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    Director: John E. Dowdle
    Genre: Mystery
    Release Date: September 17, 2010
    MPAA Rating: PG-13
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