It’s no secret that M Night Shyamalan hasn’t been having a very good run lately. He’s delivered a string of gradually worsening films that reached a new low with the hilariously awful The Last Airbender (seriously, it’s really fucking bad). So when the trailer for Devil first surfaced online, the backlash was deafening. I don’t think most people even knew that he didn’t actually direct it, all they saw was “from the mind of M Night Shyamalan ” and that was enough for them to pre-emptively judge the film. This is kind of a shame really, since if anything, Devil has actually raised my opinion of the troubled filmmaker. Sure, he may have only have come up with the story, hell, he may have just blurted out “five guys in an elevator and one of them might be the Devil!” and then just grabbed a check and ran from the room laughing manically. But I’ve always thought the guy has a knack for interesting stories, although the same just can’t be said about his writing and directing skills. So in this case, I respect the man for stepping aside and allowing director John Erick Dowdle (Qurantine) to bring this intriguing idea to life in is the first instalment of The Night Chronicles. Anyway, excuse the M Night ramble and let’s get on with the review!
High concept thrillers seem to be all the rage in Hollywood right now. We’ve already had people stuck on a chairlift in Frozen, Ryan Reynolds stuck in a box in Buried, and the forthcoming 127 Hours promises us James Franco stuck under a rock. Devil continues this current trend with its five strangers (Geoffrey Arend, Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green and Jenny O’Hara) stuck in an elevator premise. Only to make matters worse, and to add a unique twist on this already claustrophobic setting, the trapped individuals may possibly be sharing their close confines with the Devil himself. And when the lights go out, one by one these unlucky strangers feel the horned one’s merciless and murderous wrath… The tight narrative Devil posseses allows for an effectively taught and briskly paced thriller, packed with enough twists and turns to leave you guessing right up until the very end. The film feels like it was written with ‘fun’ stamped all over it, as it never tries to do anything other than entertain the audience. And in this respect, the film succeeds where most Hollywood blockbusters have failed as of late.