Devil (2010)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 5.1/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 8/10

DEVIL (2010) - John Erick Dowdle

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil walks bout like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." - Peter 5:8

There is a story about how the Devil roams the earth. Sometimes, he would take human form so he can punish the damned on Earth before claiming their souls. The ones he chose would be gathered together and tortured as he hid amongst them, pretending to be one of them.

Devil centers on Detective Bowden (Chris Messina), a recovering alcoholic caused by the hit and run death of his wife and son. Meanwhile, five strangers board an elevator, which becomes stuck between floors just shortly after starting. The five strangers are: Vince McCormick (Geoffrey Arend), a mattress salesman known for his frauds, Sarah Carraway (Bojana Novakovic), a pathological liar, Ben Larson (Bokeem Woodbine), a temporary security guard with a history of violence, Jane Kowski (Jenny O'Hara), an old female thief, and Tony (Logan Marshall-Green), a mechanic. The film follows Detective Bowden as he investigates the situation, marked suspicious by Ramirez (Jacob Vargas), a security guard who grew up listening to the stories of the Devil's presence on Earth. As the plot progresses, the film slowly suggests that one of the five strangers is the Devil himself.

Devil is written by M. Night Shyamalan, which by now is regarded as one of the most self-destruct directors of the past decade. Though his name is on the brink of ruin, Shyamalan gives a loyal nod to past thrills written by Agatha Christie, especially her 1939 novel And Then There Were None. The movie's concept is based around the Devil's Meeting, supposedly a premise that the Devil is in fact on Earth to test evildoers by tormenting them. Consequently, the idea of being stuck in an elevator throughout an entire film is radically common. Hollywood Reporter calls it, "[Running] fresh out of ideas." Though the storyline bears little originality, it is exceptionally done. The pacing is brisk and raises the stakes while delivering suspenseful moments to the audience. It is a nice combination of tension and mystery.

The cinematography is done by Tak Fujimoto, who worked with M. Night Shyamalan on several of his past films, including The Sixth Sense and Signs. Here in Devil, Fujimoto delivers a spectrum of engaging shots, from dollies to sudden zoom-ins. Along with precisely executed direction, Devil conjures effective atmospheric moments that resemble the good times of Shyamalan's direction.

Devil is directed by John Erick Dowdle, who previously did the American remake of [REC] called Quarantine. With the help of an extremely talented cast, Dowdle fleshes out every character to perfection. The film successfully uses paranoia and suspense to keep the audience entertained. The tone and atmosphere is handled exquisitely, as if Dowdle is "Sixth Sense" Shyamalan. The movie in its general image resembles the minimalism presented by Phone Booth and Buried. It is edge-of-your-seat thrills from beginning to end. Just like SignsDevil is about the atmosphere and dread between normal characters in which supernatural events start to unfold. It is a group of the ordinary encountering an element of the extraordinary. Furthermore, Devil's characters are fully developed.

In this critic's experience, not a single face in Devil is seen before, yet their performances contain excessive maturity. The key to each brilliant performance in Devil is naturalism. No matter how minor the characters are, all figures convey their personalities accurately, responding to events exactly the way their types of characters would. The real question about these actors, though, is how come Hollywood rarely chooses these people to be in movies. We get "hot muscular guys" and "hot girls" but no enthralling performers? It amazes me that a film like Devil can come along and capture my attention faster than most of other horror movies by using a series of unfamiliar faces.

In conclusion, Devil is an enjoyable film. It fluently merges thrills with mystery. The performances are engaging and the atmospheric context is well maneuvered. It is undoubtedly a low-budget film whose impact can be greater than it appears to be. It is also one of the greatest minimalist films that are recently made. Now if only M. Night Shyamalan can make another movie like this. Forget The Lady in the Water andThe Happening. Direct another movie like Devil. It is small scale that delivers exactly what it promises, perhaps even more.


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