So I was flicking through Amazon Prime the other day when I noticed a film that I’d been meaning to watch for some time… Devil.
Written and produced by master of the predictably unpredictable, M. Knight Shyamalan, the film got loads of attention when it hit the cinema screens back in 2010. It managed to recoup its production costs on the first weekend of its release in the US, which is no mean feat, particularly for a horror film.
And you can see why. Like most of the other films he has had a hand in, Devil is compulsive viewing.
To begin with though, the title of the film – Devil – is a little misleading. Yes, the movie is loosely related to Beelzebub, but something more like ‘5 People in a Lift’ (following the literal titles like Snakes on a Plane) would have been more apt, as the film is precisely that.
It’s a regular day in a high rise building in the business district of Philadelphia when cops are called to investigate a suicide. Someone has jumped from one of the windows far above.
But the incident marks the beginning of a very bad day for anyone involved in the investigation. Soon afterwards, strange things start happening to five unfortunate people travelling in one of the building’s lifts.
With the lift stuck between floors and with power and communications failing, it soon becomes clear that something evil is at work in the confined space. And as the occupants are slowly and methodically hurt and killed, they turn on each other. The end result is a tense, paranormal whodunnit that you can’t help but enjoy watching.
Much like the Saw films, the victims in the scenario are ‘sinners’ and even the cop leading the investigation into the incidents as they unfold is inextricably linked to the people in the lift.
Finding the link between the individuals seems to be the only way to predict what will happen next. And as the police and security watch on helplessly via cctv, it seems that the chance of any of the five getting out alive is impossible.
Devil is a high end production offering everything that you’d expect from a gripping Hollywood horror movie. The cast, characters and dialogue are all of a high pedigree and the film is polished from its limited but effective special effects to its darkly atmospheric colour grading.
Director John Erick Dowdle, an obvious horror lover (Quarantine, Quarantine 2 and As Above So Below) manages to make a potentially dull and predictable scenario exciting.
As always, with Shyamalan things are a little predictable and after the final play someone in the room (as you watch) is bound to say ‘See! I knew they did it!’. It doesn’t really detract from the overall entertainment factor though.
Devil is a very watchable film and a great choice if you want to escape all the election coverage.