Director:John Erick Dowdle .
Writer: M Night Shyamalan (story) Brian Nelson (screenplay)
Starring: Chris Messina, Caroline Dhavernas Bokeem Woodbine, Jenny O’Hara, Geoffrey Arend, Matt Craven, Logan Marshall-Green. USA. 1h 20m.
This film came at a time when M Night Shalananalaym’s name was still good to fair going, even though he didn’t direct it, his signaure was enough branding to really push the movie to the head of the queue, but in all fairness he did write the story so played a role and probably got a big pay cheque for it. So Devil’s selling point was this dark mystery where the audience was supposed to work out who the big red guy is!! Also it’s one of those cheap ass films where it’s set in one room, so keeping things on the cheap can turn a lot of profits.
Generally it’s an old belife that if you’re resorting to a stuck in an elevator episode in a TV show then you’ve officially run out of ideas, so white the devil aspect was inviting I was highly suspicious of this film. After the upside down fly through the film instantly loses it’s shit.
The intro is quite fascinating, an upside down fly through of the “city”, much like the vertigotastic city into in Candyman (1992) but then things get mundane, two stories start to align themselves, the main is a group of people who get stuck in a lift, and the harrowing details of the cop leading the rescue mission to free them. Luckily there is a pious security guard who’s grand mother warned him about this exact event and he gives out tips right through the movie, mostly on deaf ears.
So we have a group of strangers trapped in a lift and even under the watchful eyes of the security team they still manage to keep dying, or being killed one by one.. each time we get a black out, the lights come on, corpse revealed and then a bit of investigations from the law enforcers as they try to narrow down who the killer is. I assumed that there would be clues to help the audience work out this whodunit but like The Beast Must Die (1974) it wouldn’t be much of a movie if you could work it out too soon, but after watching the film several times I can’t fathom if the audience had any chance?
It’s not exactly groundbreaking and seemed to have ignored all ideas of represnting the devil, but at time it drums up some suspence but overdoes the soppy teary eyed sob story the eventually binds two characters together (you see this coming a mile off). When the Devil finally reveals and announces that he really wanted that soul I was left questioning why, what did that person do that was so terrible considering the fuckwits that are currently around. It doesn’t leave a sour taste in the mouth like The Exorcist (1973) it doesn’t terrify, unless you already have a fear of lifts, then you’ll be excused for thinking differently.
The Salesman (Geoffrey Arend) really stole the show with his witty sing with me moments (why doesn’t this man have his own show?), but no one else really stood out, generally the film is a little underwelming. It could have been incredibly dark and scary but instead it trails off on a moralistic pleasent trip and ruined a potentially great horror idea.
R – Angel Heart (1987). Clue (1985), Devil’s Advocate (1997), The Beast Must Die (1974)
L – Elevator Movies, Classic Elevator Scenes, Devil Films, Whodunits
5S – M Night Shalamanysysmama, 5 Best portrayls of the Devil