20 September 2010

DEVIL

The Devil May Be Bad, but the Movie is Good

I have to admit, when I first heard of a movie based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan , I had a laugh. He has not been worth anything since Signs. He seems to be more of a punch line now more than anything. Yet, the concept seemed intriguing. I took a screenwriting class where one of our assignments was to write a scene in which three or more characters are stuck in an elevator. They all had to have a unique voice. So, when I saw this movie, at first, it looked like someone stole my idea. As it happens, my friend and co-writer that I met in said-class, called to see if I wanted to go see Devil. He had free tickets, so I figured, why not. It’s only 80 minutes. How bad can it be?

Devil opens with a voice over about how the devil likes to take human form and torture his victims in life before claiming them for eternal damnation. Later, the security guard refers to this as “the Devil’s meeting.” He narrates the story, telling of how it starts with a suicide, which happens. This allows the devil to take human form. Throughout the movie, the narrator gives insight as to what will happen next. The security guard I mentioned above does the narrating.

So, five strangers get into an elevator, which just so happens to be an express elevator, and head up. They are an older woman, a male security guard, a mattress salesman, a rich woman and a shady looking guy. I have to admit, the dialog was entertaining. Each character had their own feel and motivation.

When the elevator stops, two security guards notice and ask the maintenance guy to look into it. In classic horror movie fashion, the cameras work, but the two-way speaker only works one way. The security desk can talk to the elevator, but not vice versa. The narration warns that people that try to get in the way of the devil’s plan wind up paying for it. The maintenance guy finds this out. Meanwhile, the lights flicker, and go out. When they come one, one of the passengers meets their demise. This was a stroke of genius. It allows there to be violence, but not seen keeps it PG-13. Also, the pitch black with noise all around helps keep things eerie.

A detective looking into the jumper from the beginning answers the call of the stuck elevator after the first death. Of course, he has a backstory. While he tries to get to the trapped passengers, other dies. All things come full circle. The voice over, the detective’s backstory, and everything going on in the elevator cab get nicely wrapped up. I just wish that they would have pulled the final twist and tied in the jumper from the beginning.

Verdict: I am afraid people are not going to see Devil because of M. Night’s involvement. That is too bad. This was a very entertaining popcorn flick. I recommend this. I just hope people, and you, can look past M. Night. He really has nothing to do with this film.

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