I won’t lie. I didn’t have the highest hopes for “Devil”, but I was pleasently surprised by a decent story with a good twist. The plot follows what the commercials have laid out for us. Five seemingly innocent individuals are trapped on an elevator. However, we soon learn each of them has a dark past filled with misdeeds. As the revelations begin, so too do the deaths until we finally learn that the devil had been among them the whole time.
Let’s begin where we should with a Shyamalan production: the twist. The twist comes two fold in the form of one of the character’s revelations. We find that someone in the story is tied to a seemingly minor side character. Although the movie alludes to it heavily, in retrospect at least, it still caught me off guard. Compound that with when the devil does make his presence known, and we have a fairly convincing twist.
While the twist was a bright spot of the plot, the rest of the movie was average. The story was like a faulty GPS. It got you where you wanted to go, but you had to take a few detours and wrong turns along the way. Primarily, for the religious/moral tone of the film too much was left up to the “devil’s magic” to get the plot rolling.
By the end of the movie, we know we aren’t perfect, and even the best of us has made mistakes. I think the direction missed a great chance (spoiler alert) with the deaths of those in the elevator. Had the characters killed each other through what seemed to be accidents, for example, someone with claustrophobia having a panic attack and accidentally killing someone else, would have hit the morality message home better. All the characters would have to deal with the revelations as the audience did, giving them a far more human side, allowing us to connect more, rather than just be voyeurs.
In addition, this would have better allowed for the allusion that any of them could have been the devil rather than who it turned out to be. We get the point of the story, but it could have been more meaningful.
Aside from the story, some of the writing, particularly some character lines were painful. Lines, such as “suck a butt,” were strewn throughout like little landmines that jar you out of the groove of the story. At least “suck a butt” came from the only character who could conceivably say something that stupid. But, still, it was too much. I mean, try saying that to yourself aloud, “suck a butt,” and try not to laugh.
Despite my minor ranting, I found myself caring about these people and I wanted to see their story to the end. So, the writing, plot and all, did its job.
The acting was pretty decent on the whole, aside from the Samuel L. Jackson wannabe played by Bokeem Woodbine. Everyone else played their part well, making the situation seem more natural.
And, one last point, the camerawork was pretty solid. Generally, the sequences were framed well to help create a desired atmosphere. The only part I didn’t get were the long pan shots of Philadelphia upside down.
Either way, “Devil” is not a bad movie and is worth checking out. I have some reservations, as I laid out, and it’s not totally slamacow. But it’s not “The Last Airbender” by any means. It’s a solid middle of the road movie.
Final Grade: C
MPAA Rating: PG13