Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Devil (2010) Dir. by John Erick Dowdle
When a group of random people find themselves trapped in an elevator, they slowly realize that a greater evil may be amongst the; The Devil.
Going into this movie I have been hearing a lot of mixed reviews. Some people absolutely love it and other extremely hate it. I have heard more good things said than bad, but I was still a little discouraged with M. Night Shyamalan being attached to it. With the exception of the amazing Lady in the Water, I haven't enjoyed an M. Night film since Signs. He has really fallen off the wagon lately, but with Devil he decides to sit this one out of the directing chair. In an interview I saw recently M. Night explained that Devil was going to be the first of a trilogy of story telling films. He had to want to direct it SOOO bad, before he would want it to be the first film of the trilogy. This is also why Lady in the Water is the only exception for me on the list of recent M. Night films. Lady in the Water had brilliant storytelling, and Devil follows along the same lines.
Another thing that got me more interested in the film was that it would be the first film of Dowdle's that I had seen that wasn't filmed on the handheld camera. With Quarantine and The Poughkeepsie Tapes being his last two features, which both I enjoyed even if on a minor level, I was ready to see what Dowdle had up his sleeve. I was not let down one bit. The level of storytelling Devil brings to the table is astonishing; with its believable characters, solid pacing on a lower running time, and a mood that leaves you on the edge of your seat. It brought me back to the days of watching who-done-it? films of my youth, such as the great Clue (1985). The narration of the film could be viewed as distracting but I thought it was the perfect setup for each step of the story. It was like starting a chapter of a book. It told you exactly what was going to happen, but you didn't know how it was going to happen or who was going to do it. It was brilliant.
This movie couldn't have been made without some above par acting from at least two of the main people in the elevator, and that is Logan Marshall-Green (Dark Blue(TV), Across the Universe) and Bojana Novakovic (Edge of Darkness,Drag Me To Hell). Their performance drive the film along with a good performance from Chris Messina (From a bunch of crappy chick flicks) and a surprise performance from Josh Vargas (Death Race,The Hills Have Eyes II). Even with the ridiculous overacting by Geoffrey Arend, Bokeem Woodbine, and Jenny O'Hara the film is still solid and it doesn't become a distraction.
I would say overall I really was surprised by this film, and in a good way. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and it takes alot from a movie to do that; especially when there is basically only one primary location in the film. The religious themes of the film definitely bring more depth to the story and acts like the glue that brings it all together. It is pretty much non-stop from beginning to end, and I look forward to the rest of the storytelling trilogy(as long as M. Night doesn't direct). This movie is a must see for at least one viewing. I loved it!
Entertainment Value: 9/10 Different ways to die in an elevator
Cinematic Value: 8/10 Different ways to die in an elevator