July 9, 2011

#132: Devil (5/10)

The Sixth Sense blew my mind. Unbreakable wowed me. Signs disappointed, and The Village down right pissed me off.  I skipped Lady in the Water. I laughed at the scathing reviews of The Happening and frowned when everybody hated The Last Airbender so much.  I had no intention of watching Devil, even though it got middling reviews when it came out last year.  By some miracle we got free HBO and Cinemax for a weekend and Devil was on, so I DVRed it.

I suppose my expectations for Devil were so low that it could only exceed them, so it is a little unfair to say something like "it was better than I thought it would be". However, it was. I have to admit that I very much enjoyed the entire process of watching this movie. It is short and sweet. I'm not saying there isn't any room for improvement; because there is a lot of that, but I'm definitely glad I watched it.

Devil is the movie equivalent of a bottle episode. Some people are stuck in an elevator and it just so happens that one of them may or may not be the actual prince of darkness.  It is a "who done it" of sorts with the always miraculously clever and rewarding Shyamalami payoff. Obviously I'm kidding about that.  The payoff is one of the least compelling parts of this film.

I did enjoy the time I spent watching Devil. In hindsight it is easy to say that this movie could have been so much more. There is a lot left on the table here. The tension could have been elevated. The fear could have been more intense. Still, what they did a did a decent job and I was invested the whole way through. In a very Shyamalan type move there is a security guard who somehow knows the killer is the devil the whole time. His addition to the film was completely unneeded and unwarranted. However, if he weren't there then the ending might have been a little out of left field. Either way, the premise of the "bad guy" isn't subtly done. That being said, I had no clue which or our cast of characters was going to end up being Lucifer himself.

Another element that follows true Shyambalamba form is the importance of what we don't see in the film. All the action happens in complete darkness, or off camera all together. It is pulled off well here, and the audio provides an eerie substitute. It is edited well. My eyes wanted to see some graphic violence, but my mind knew I was better off without it.  Devil is one of those films that might aggravate those who crave gore.

Overall Devil was a nice little surprise. It is a simple film; almost a "B" level entry. However, if you aren't expecting anything more then you can appreciate that it is well produced and nicely cut together for a tame thriller.  There were some nice touches that made it a very enjoyable experience even though the whole package wasn't extremely thought-provoking or compelling. I will mildly recommend it to those of us who are too scared to watch real horror movies.

I should be clear that Shyamalan did not direct Devil as he did the others I mentioned. That honor goes to John Erick Dowdle. However, it is the first film M. Night didn't direct that came directly from his mind.   

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