Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Well, color me surprised. I liked DEVIL. It's not without it's faults, but they are outweighed by what the film has to offer.
The plot is super simple. There is a group of people trapped in an elevator. No one can get it working again despite the efforts of the security staff and maintenance people. The lights flicker...dim...and go dark. And that's when the incidents start to occur. Will the detective on the scene be able to calm them down enough so they won't hurt each other so he has time to sort out what's going on? And, will that one security guy STOP going on about...the Devil?
This is a classic "lifeboat" situation with a twist. We're not just dealing with trapped people on edge here. It's a pressure cooker with a supernatural bent. A great "Who dunnit?" plot line with some great reveals and fun edit work. There's a flickering light element that is a lot of fun. It was a fun gag that had me giggling at one point.
The detective work within the film works, too. There's nothing flying in from left field. Everything seems to work and flow naturally. And the way the story unfolds really had me engaged.
Now, the film isn't without it's "faults". The screenplay was based on an M. Night Shyamalan story, so it has some heavy handed themes about good and evil. But, that aside, the story is also a lot of fun and packed with great, rolling set pieces that lead the viewer along nicely.
John Erick Dowdle's direction is pretty dern good as well. Looking back on his other efforts, he does have some shining moments in the darkness. 2007's The Poughkeepsie Tapes was all the rage. In 2008, he was handed Quarantine. While the film SHOULD have worked due to the success of the original...released in the same year...it didn't have the same success as the amazing Spanish original. Two years later, Devil came and received ok reviews, but I think people were not ready to see this claustrophobic horror mystery unfold - a tale told in one space, basically.
Much of what works here is Brian Nelson's script. It's a lot of fun and moves quickly. Seeing as he was involved in HARD CANDY and 30 DAYS OF NIGHT - two more films that take place in basically the same area in a closed in way, it's not surprising that this film worked so well.
I had this in my list on NETFLIX for a while and hovered over it several times. But...to be honest...M. Night being involved made me shy away. It's sad, but true. I was so into him when he first showed up on the scene and now I see his name on something and shy away. Personally, DEVIL has me back in the M. Night camp.
If you're in the mood for a good story, interesting situations and some fun acting, give DEVIL a go.