Okay, it's an M. Night Shyamalan story/production, but he didn't write the final script, direct the film or (as far as I could tell) cameo in it. They hid it from the critics, and I went in expecting the worst but willing to give DEVIL a chance--I certainly have no objection to "five characters in search of an exit" claustro-thrillers, and as you might remember, I had my own "things happen for a reason" experience just last week.
And DEVIL--while certainly not perfect--turned out to not be terrible, either.
You all know the premise--five assorted characters are trapped in an office elevator, and we eventually learn that one of them has got to be the Devil in disguise. What you don't see in the trailers is the homicide detective (Chris Messina) who brings his own baggage to the case when he gets the call--he's actually the main character.
John Erick Dowdle is the director in this case--he's the guy who basically redid REC shot for shot in English and called it QUARANTINE... so how does he do when he's on his own? Not bad at all... he's especially effective when it comes to vertigo-inducing skyscraper photography: the upside-down opening credit sequence is quite the thing, and there's also a terrific shot where a mechanic's cap blows off his head and sails over the edge of the building...
The trapped characters work well together and there are some truly intense moments here and there--but you can tell how the film deliberately pulls back from the most shocking material.
I didn't bother trying to figure out the ending in advance, and it wouldn't have made much of a difference if I had... it will suffice to say that the film is "really" about themes and issues rehashed from Shyamalan's own SIGNS and the superior Christian Bale thriller THE MACHINIST... who the Devil "is" doesn't even matter in the end. I wish I could say that the film paid off with an insanely intense, riveting final ten minutes, but I can't--there's too much distraction from superfluous characters and from the fact that the cop is trying to solve this as a "real" crime conspiracy... since we KNOW that the solution really will be supernatural, the detective work is less than fascinating (though it does help flesh out the characters a bit).
It's not great, but it's certainly not the stinker you might have heard it was, either--and frankly, I'll take this over a high-tech, 3-D MATRIX rehash any day of the week (cough cough RESIDENT EVIL cough cough)...
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Just saw this and thought it was pretty darn good. It was well acted and had a good pace. The 80 minute runtime seemed to force it to get down to business right away and keep it up until the end. "Devil" kind of reminded me of an extended "Twilight Zone" episode.