That’s why I take the stairs.
Five strangers in Philadelphia begin their day with the most commonplace of routines. They walk into an office tower and enter an elevator. As they convene into this single place, they are forced to share a confined space with strangers. They’ll only be together for a few moments. But what appears to be a random occurrence is anything but coincidental when the car becomes stuck. Fate has come calling.
Being a flick that’s from the crazy-mind of M. Night Shyamalan, you have to go in expecting creepiness, monsters, and a fun little twist at the end. And even though the guy hasn’t had a film worth worshiping in say about 10 years, he still somehow makes this film better.
Directed by John Erick Dowdle, the film has a very simple premise where you don’t quite know what’s going to happen next and you wait patiently as you climb towards the climax of the flick. Dowdle does a relatively good job at keeping this mystery and suspense going on throughout the whole film considering there is a lot of weird things that happen for no reason, other than the fact that there just may be Devil’s play at-hand.
As the whole plot unfolds we get to discover more and more about these characters backgrounds and realize that just about everybody we are watching here, are just a bunch of shady people. We also get to see how each one responds with the stress they feel of being all cooped up in this small-space and all of these crazy things happening. The real fun of the film was this factor considering we never know who just may be the Devil in disguise and when I thought I had it all figured out as to who it was by the end, M. Night pulled the rug right from underneath my feet and gives me a little twist that I was not expecting in the least bit. That damn M. Night. He can still make shitty films but somehow trick me.
Where this film really fails is in its way of showing the Devil off with its constant religious talk. We get all of these types of different versions of how the Devil is shown off in this flick: as a cartoon version we usually see in Hollywood, as one that goes around killing people non-stop until there’s no blood left anymore, and as one that is usually talked about in myths around a camp-fire. This annoyed me considering that the film didn’t know how to show off the Devil in one certain way so they tried with all of these other ways and then try to supply some religious ideas on us.
The film tries its hardest to go deeper with these moral and religious ways but in the end, just comes off as hokey and very forced upon the audience. The story frequently goes over towards this Latin security guard that is obviously very religious heavy because he has a cross around his neck, and constantly talks about the Devil and all of his ways. There were actually a lot of scenes showing him doing these things and they came off as dumb considering nobody in their right minds would act the way he does towards a real-life situation like this. Then again, this is a film and an M. Night Shyamalan film at that so I guess it can’t be that realistic.
The cast was also a bit of a bummer as well considering everybody here is one-dimensional except for Chris Messina as Detective Bowden. Messina is pretty good in this role and I can say easily seems like the voice-of-reason throughout this whole film. Even though his story arch doesn’t quite work to make me feel too much for his character, I thought Messina still handled this role very well and made it seem like he was a real person rather than just another “cop with a problem” cliche. Other than him though, everybody else is pretty unmemorable even though I like how the film didn’t really cast any big names, which gave me the feel as if these actually were real people.
Consensus: Devil has a simple but cool premise with a lot of cheap thrills, chills, and a nice little twist at the end but too many times does it try and get religious, which may feel necessary considering the subject matter but also feels incredibly cheesy and unrealistic.