Five strangers trapped. One of them is not what they seem.
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Released: September 2010
Plot: A group of people are trapped in an elevator and the Devil is mysteriously amongst them.
These days when I see M. Night Shyamalan on a film poster, I no longer get the same excitement as when he had burst onto the scene with Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs and even The Village, since then his films have for the most part felt cheesy or simply boring, luckily however when it came to Devil, Shyamalan chose to hand over directorial duties to another and although the film might have missed out on the extra exposure his name would bring, it gained so much more.
The film opens with an awesome upside-down aerial view of Philadelphia, throwing the audience off-kilter from the very start, before introducing us to a rather simple premise: when five people trapped on a lift start to die one by one, a detective has to get to the bottom of who is the killer and deal with the idea that one might be the killer, coming to collect their souls.
A confined space like a lift works surprisingly well in this movie and creates an intense and claustrophobic atmosphere, playing on everyone’s worst fears when travelling in one, while the scenes outside of the lift do well to keep the tension building and make you truly fearful for not only the inhabitants of the lift but also the rescuers.
There are some things that I found didn’t work with the poor character development the biggest issue. Sure I understand that the four are set up as bad people or to at least have a dark past, but none of them felt bad enough to warrant a visit from the Devil, with the only character given any real development being Detective Bowden (Messina). With this movie being only an hour and twenty minutes there is definitely room to have expanded the story and give more of the characters further backstory.
Devil may not be perfect, but it is a good thriller that mixes in religion and fun time that keeps you guessing right up until the enjoyable twist ending that makes you watch back more than once to see if the film gave any hints.