"So no, I don't believe in the Devil. You don't need him, people are bad enough by themselves."So perhaps we've been a bit harsh on M. Night Shyamalan's projects in the past. Actually no, we haven't been. Remember The Happening, Lady in The Water, The Village? Shall I go on? As we struggle to recover from our post traumatic stress from some of his previous movies, the serially panned filmmaker presented us with Devil, another amateur "horror" flick earlier this year. And, it's not half bad.
Well, I should add that it's not good either. Consider it the best of the worst. The worst of any of the bad films he's had anything to do with in the past. While Shyamalan only co-wrote Devil, his usual silly "gotcha" stamp is still very evident in the movie. This is unfortunate for someone who's been in the business for nearly two decades. But gone are his signatures--sloppiness, random self-cameos, and blatant laziness with the script. Rather Devil is put together pretty seamlessly in that you actually want to know how it all wraps up in the end. In other words, it holds your interest.
Devil traps five seemingly random people in an elevator of an office building who think they have nothing to do with each other. The longer they're held in the close quarters, the more their skeletons fly out the closets. As they struggle to keep calm, they can't help thinking that one of their elevator mates may be up to no good. Suspicions flare and body counts rise in the compact holding cell that's sadly become their stomping ground. And, for once, the twist is actually less predictable than we may think. Blending the uncertainty of religion and the fear of claustrophobia, Devil presents itself to at least the level of such horrible horror flicks as The Unborn and Drag Me to Hell.
Is Shyamalan out of the doghouse? Not so fast. It's a promising beginning, but not necessarily a gateway to improved films later down the line. Devil isn't really scary, the acting stinks, and it's not that clever, but you can rest knowing that the culprit isn't a hand puppet. At least now we could be interested to see what Shyamalan may come up with next.
Reel Talk rating: C-