- User Rating: Excellent
Bang For The Buck
Pros:Taunt, tight, and consistant. Well acted and directed. Spooky.
Cons:Contrived, by its nature. Supernatural elements will not appeal to some.
The Bottom Line: I found myself cringing through this PG 13 movie; I love it when they do that! It is a sign of working with the story, not the special effects guy.
Devil (2010) Directed by John Erick Dowdle from a story by M. Night Shyamalan
"Sometimes the Devil takes human form to walk amongst us, and punish the damned on earth." --Ramirez
This is the bastard love child of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians and Final Destination. The story was not directed by M. Night Shyamalan, but it has his fingerprints all over it.
One of the key elements of horror is isolation. It does not get much more isolated than being stuck in an express elevator midway between stops. Five people find themselves in this situation, two Queens and Three Jacks, as Lustig (Matt Craven) the security guard says. They are called the young woman (Bojana Novakovic), the old woman (Jenny O'Hara), the salesman (Geoffrey Arend), the security guard (Bokeem Woodbine), and the Mechanic (Logan Marshall-Green) for ease of use. When the elevator breaks down, they can hear the intercom, but the security forces can't hear them. This further isolates them.
Outside the elevator, we learn everyone's name. Lustig and Ramirez (Jacob Vargas) are the security officers. Detective Bowen (Chris Messina) is investigating a suicide that may have jumped from that building, when he gets the call. Each person on the outside gives us a little story, a little back ground. Ramirez, a deeply religious man, is the vehicle for the lore. This reminds him of stories his mother used to tell, about how the Devil operates. He is counterbalanced by Lustig, who tries to quiet his religious theories out of a PC sensibility, and by Detective Bowen, who has just made his ninety day sober mark. Detective Bowen lost his belief in the supernatural when he lost his wife and son to a hit and run driver five years before.
As the story progresses, tensions mount in the elevator. At first, it is the b*tchiness you expect when people are inconvenienced, and a little scared. But then the lights go out, and the young woman ends up with what look like bite marks on her back. Suddenly, it is a whole new ball game.
And as the heat mounts inside the pressure cooker dangling high over Philadelphia, the tensions are mounting on the outside as the police scramble to identify who the five people are, and as the building personnel work to free them. As Ramirez points out, "When he is near, there are no small accidents. The worst always happens. He resents and punishes those who would get between him and his prey." He proves it; the toast falls jelly side down. I don't think maintenance man Dwight (Joe Cobden) cared which way he landed (face up) atop the elevator car, but from how high up he fell. And people start dying.
Who will live? Anyone? Who will die? Everyone? Inside and outside the elevator? Those are the questions, and the movie keeps the tension wound tight with expert timing, and bumps, scares, and grisly twists. There are more red herring than in a Swedish canning factory. There are more suspects than people involved. And as always, just when it looks like you have a handle on things, there is another twist.
This is a tight little thriller, well written, and well acted. I am sure many critics will find ways to run it down, but I found it intelligent, insightful, and tense, delivering the chills and scares on a regular basis, intermixed with puzzle pieces, and vignettes designed to, and mostly succeeding, make us care for the people involved.
The basic premise comes back time and time again, why anyone would lock themselves in an elevator with their target, and three witnesses, knowing the entire thing was being filmed, and that there is no way out. It is a puzzle, and one that Detective Bowen hates.
One person asked how could G*d allow this? The answer if free will. We all have it. So does the Devil. And therein lays the crux of the movie. Devil; I think I'll take the stairs.
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Movie Mood: Scary Movie
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Nothing