July 24, 2012 7 Comments
‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’ Peter 5:8
In ‘Devil’ five strangers, all with dark secrets to hide, are trapped in an elevator of an inner-city office building. As they await their rescue, they start to die one by one in a mysterious way. ‘Devil’ belongs to the genre of films which is my favourite – so-called ‘confined spaces’ films. From screen adaptations of ‘And Then There Were None’ (1945), (1974) to ‘Cube’ (1997), ‘Identity’ (2003), ‘Fermat’s Room’ (2007) and ‘Exam’ (2009), these type of films are often intriguing and engaging, and sometimes solely due to the strength of personalities portrayed and fascinating interactions among movie characters. For my list of highly intelligent, complex and thought-provoking films, see here.
John Erick Dowdle (‘Quarantine’ (2008)), the film director, had said that ‘Devil’ borrowed its main theme from Agatha Christie’s novel ‘And Then There Were None’. This means that the film is quite enigmatic: it introduces a group of strangers with different personalities, who gather in one isolated location, but with one of them being an impostor with an evil mind who plans to kill all the rest. In that way, in terms of being a psychological thriller, ‘Devil’ is also a fascinating study of human behaviour.
The merit of ‘Devil’ lies in the way it introduces supernatural forces into the everyday world. This shift is not abrupt, as to make the film idea ridiculous, but is rather gradual, and made as realistic as possible. Unlike such recent thrillers as ‘Red Eye’ (2005), ‘Devil’ can never really be perceived as trashy or funny upon seeing it, and can be remembered just for its unexpected ending, which far suppresses the endings of some of the recent horror movies, including ‘The Devil Inside’ (2012) and ‘The Woman in Black’ (2012). Also, despite many references to devils and faiths in the movie, ‘Devil’ is not as overtly religious as most critics laid it out to be, certainly no more so than ‘The Exorcist’ (1973).
‘Devil’ is the first of three films forming part of the series ‘The Night Chronicles’ based on the producer Shyamalan’s (‘Sixth Sense’ (1999)) ideas. The idea behind the film actually comes from the myth about the Devil’s Meeting. According to this South-American legend the death takes the form of a human being and wonders in search of sinners in order to torture them on Earth. This idea dominates the theme of ‘Devil‘, and because it seems so scary and fascinating, it makes the film-watching even more interesting.
The cast has been heavily criticised in ‘Devil‘, but unjustly so. For example, Chris Messina (Vicky, Christina, Barcelona (2008), Julie & Julia (2009)) as detective Bowden does a very good job, and so does Logan Marshall-Green (The O.C) as a mechanic in the elevator.
Devil’ may not be the best horror film ever due to all too-familiar story and much desired camerawork, but it touches on thought-provoking themes, which make this movie a very interesting watch. Overall, despite the somewhat shallow plot, ‘Devil’ is never boring, strangely suspenseful, often scary and certainly a worthy choice for a night-in. 6/10