“Phone Booth”, “Panic Room” and now the “Devil” all have things in common. They all are set in the one place and they all have a captivating tension because of their simple setting. “Devil” is the story of five people who get stuck in an elevator and one of them is the devil. Wierd things start to happen in the elevator and the group starts to turn on each other quickly.
When I seen that M. Night Shyamalan was involved with this I immediately ran a mile from it but I soon realized that he didn’t direct it, he only done the story to it. Shyamalan’s recent signature of having a bad script and silly actor direction is nowhere to be seen here and Devil turns into quite an interesting movie. The film is not much of a horror, it’s more of thriller mystery of sorts. It starts into the serious business quickly and it maintains interest and momentum throughout. The mystery of the film is finding out who the devil is and that search becomes much harder as the film progresses. We have five people who are as imperfect as you get, but also all someway likeable and normal. Several times during the film we are subjected a black screen when the lights go out in the elevator and these may be somewhat cheap scare tricks but they build tension successfully as you’re anticipating what has happened and what will be there when the lights go back on.
The cast in Devil is a set of solid actors that aren’t exactly A list actors. 500 Days of Summer’s Geoffrey Arend is very entertaining as the sarcastic and chatty suit who has lots of fun with his role. Dark Blue’s Logan Marshall-Green is also well cast as the army guy who becomes suspect number one very early on. The film is not all set in the elevator, as it also follows a policeman who is trying to figure out all the weird events that are taking place. The film paces itself very well and sticks closely within the confines of the skyscraper to maintain the full attention on the goings on in the elevator. The climax of the film is well executed if slightly predictable but it doesn’t take a hard right turn into daft land, which is a welcomed surprise.
Devil works well within its limited scope and that’s all you can ask for from a film, to simply do what it sets out to do. With a more inventive ending and more edgy script Devil could have been a real winner but it turns out to be a very solid thriller/mystery.