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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Maybe it's because M Night Shyamalan is finally coming to terms that he
no longer is the toast of the town, that he has decided to focus his
energies on producing and writing suspenseful thrillers for his project
known as The Night Chronicles, with the first film Devil off the
blocks, and others to come including his original story idea from his
planned sequel to Unbreakable. We know how Shyamalan of late likes to
direct and include himself as one amongst the cast, though this time it
probably took a lot of effort to vacate that director's chair and quash
that acting bug, to allow someone else to helm what is essentially a
film that's right up Shyamalan's own territory. It's almost like
putting a candy jar in front of a kid, but not allowing him access at
Enter directors Drew and John Erick Dowdle, who I thought made a decent effort in bringing to life Shyamalan's story set around the confines of a claustrophobic lift, where five strangers happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, each of them being trapped inside the lift and sharing some common traits that will be revealed as the story wore on. The film addresses the notion that nothing is ever coincidental, especially if powerful negative forces like the devil decide to walk the earth and claim a few souls, while at the same time having fun toying with their prey. Weaving in a folk tale like what he did for Lady in the Water, Shyamalan's tale here involves the full works of how the devil operates, and comes with a method to defeat the supernatural forces seen in the film.
The directors managed to steer clear of the usual clichés for a fright fest, and rightly so as well because this is not that film. Granted that there are a few well crafted scenes to suggest that there are spiritual elements involved in how the victims - a mechanic (Logan Marshall- Green), an old woman (Jenny O'Hara), a young woman (Bojana Novakovic), a guard (Bokeem Woodbine) and a salesman (Geoffrey Arend) - the real draw is how visually arresting this film is in capturing fear from within close quarters. The opening sweeping shot of the city of Philadelphia upside down will bring about some disorientation, before reducing that spatial distance down to within the lift, mirroring that view through a CCTV camera back to the building's security control room, which to me is where some of the best instances of the film shines through.
I'd actually preferred what went on outside of that lift, since what's going to happen within is more like a done deal, with one of the five already revealed through marketing that he/she is someone who doesn't belong. There's more fun in following Detective Bowden (Chris Messina), who has to make sense of what's going on, balancing his deductive prowess against something that cannot be explained by logic, and watching how his due diligence and process get blown to smithereens when at first he thinks this is a simple open and shut situation, until he realizes that he's up against something that's inexplicable. It's one thing to swagger in with a plan, before fear sets in that one can be so helpless when trying to save the lives of others.
The strength of the film lies in Shyamalan's story, which is deceptively simple, yet highly effective in weaving all the plot threads together, and the linking up of the characters so crucial in providing a satisfying finale. Fans of Shyamalan's stories will find that he still has more than enough gas in the tank to come up with suspenseful tales that others now have a chance to helm on the big screen, something like what Luc Besson does these days. My interest is now piqued to see how the rest of the Chronicles will present themselves.
I enjoyed the cinematography. Especially the opening scenes and the
scenes inside the elevator shaft. The music was typical string
instruments going back and forth... could have been more eerie and
composed with more feeling.
I was pretty shocked to be sitting in an empty theater on opening night. Guess MNS has sort of blown his reputation.
I didn't try to guess the ending, I decided to just enjoy the ride. It did end rather abruptly, as if it was a TV show that had to end by a certain time. They could have fleshed out certain scenes longer and made a more comprehensive experience.
I went to see this alone as nobody I knew was interested... I'm glad I went, it was enjoyable, more so than I expected it to be.
This film had a lot of bad rep. Everyone kept saying it was going to be
horrible. However, I still went to see it, as the story and the concept
Now, in my opinion, the film is right up there with The Sixth Sense. It's engaging, keeps you guessing, and you leave feeling like you just saw a darn good movie.
The film doesn't rely on gore heavily. Instead, the film wants you to guess just who is the devil in that elevator. The story is fresh and makes a clear connection between all characters.
The bottom line is-- sure, it's not the best film ever, but it is a pretty darn good one. 8/10.
M. Night Shyamalan is one of those love him or hate him directors for
whom there's no middle ground, so it hasn't helped that he's given his
detractors a lot to crow about with his recent downward spiral with
successively poor to abysmal movies ranging from The Lady in the Water
to 2010's biggest stinker, The Last Airbender. It's been a critical
pile-on for the one time golden boy who wowed audiences and critics
alike with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable.
Things have gotten so bad that when the trailer for Devil hit theatres with the on-screen tag line "From the Mind of M. Night Shyamalan", guffaws were reported from audiences and on-line gadflies like Perez Hilton had a field day posting viral videos mocking the promos.
All of which is too bad because not only is Devil a compelling, riveting bit of movie making, but Shyamalan's involvement was limited to writing the story and co-producing, which, given his recent track record, was probably for the best.
Smartly directed by John Erick Dowdle, whose last effort was Quarantine, the equally tight and faithful remake of the Spanish horror REC, Devil marks the first instalment in a trilogy of films dubbed The Night Chronicles, which revolve around the supernatural in modern urban settings (the second film is tentatively titled Reincarnate, about the jurors of a murder trial who are haunted by a supernatural being, and Unbreakable 2 rumoured as the third instalment).
In Devil's case, the plot could easily function as a textbook case of film school 101, tasking a writer and director to fashion a small story, restricted in scope, set in the cramped environment of a stalled elevator. You can almost hear film school professors saying "if you can pull this off, you can do anything". Happily, Dowdle succeeds with flying colours.
Devil is as compelling as the story is confined. It's smart from beginning to end, almost like the hybrid elevator equivalent of Hitchcock's Lifeboat and Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians. A disparate group boards a Philadelphia office tower elevator, only to become trapped between floors and mortally victimized by someone among them who clearly possesses supernatural ability every time the lights flicker and momentarily go out.
Don't look for spoilers here as I won't be providing any. Suffice to say that Devil is one of the most smartly written, acted, and directed films I've had the pleasure to enjoy this year.
Who knows, maybe this is the beginning of Shyamalan's road back to respectability. If nothing else, it shows that he still has the chops as a top notch story teller.
I know this was "from the mind of Manoj Night Shyamalan" and it was
riding on a wave of pretty bad press, but strangely enough, I found the
movie to be pretty good.
This movie delivered what it promised, a solid taut thriller which can keep one on the edge of the seat for the optimum 1 hour and 20 minutes of running time. The acting was surprisingly consistent and good throughout by all the actors involved (tough for a low budgeter to achieve), the screenplay didn't indulge in unnecessary Boo moments to propel things forward, the script was solid and everything tied up well at the end.
I mean cmon critics, for once please give Shyamalan a break! Far better return on my money than the steaming goo pile called the "Due Date".
I say Night Syamalan is back with a bang. After watching 'The last
Airbender', I took a pledge that would be the last time I'm ever gonna
pay to watch any movie, Night Syamalan is involved in. But today I
broke my promise as I watched 'Devil'. And actually, I was not at all
disappointed. In fact, I liked it. All right, I would say it...I loved
Night Syamalan has come up with a strong and interesting story. The plot looks so simple at the beginning, but it moves on, suspense unveils in a scary, yet logical fashion. The linking between all characters is portrayed in a very effective way. Nothing is ever a coincidence.
Direction is good. Acting is decent. Cinematography is appreciable, especially the wide variety of camera angles and frames attempted to portray a simple elevator as some claustrophobic scary machine. Sound effects are captivating.
I'm already waiting for the next 'Night' chronicle!
I thought this was a really good movie, it definitely kept you guessing
until the end.
Should have been longer though, it ended very suddenly. Would have been an excellent movie if it would have lengthened a bit. Although it had the drawback of being more like a short story it was definitely a movie worth watching. The special effects were really good and the story line was great. I would recommend everyone give it a chance.
This was definitely one of the better movies he has directed. The music could have been a little more eerie though.
After going to watch the last exorcism, I started to give up on the horror movies. I'm glad I went and seen this one. It was not disappointing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ah, good ol' M. Night Shamalamadingdong, as I like to call him. I feel
so bad for this guy, when he created The Sixth Sense, he made one of
the best thrillers of all time with a twist ending that set the bar so
high that others would always try to succeed it. Ever since then,
Shamalamadingdong has been trying to outdo himself with a ton of twist
endings and scripts that my Pomeranian could write. When I saw the
trailer for Devil, I got excited because it looked really creepy, then
I saw the director's name and just sighed, it's pretty much likely that
the movie will flop and will be horrible. I just caught it on a movie
channel, actually I have to give Shamalamadingdong some credit, this is
an improvement over his last films. However, it's still one of the most
ridicules movies I have ever seen.
Five strangers board an elevator, which becomes stuck between floors just shortly after starting up to the upper floors. The five don't introduce themselves right away, but when security finds them, they notice that other than the CCTV and a radio which they can communicate into the elevator. Lustig, the head of security, sends repair technician Dwight to investigate the elevators while Bowden tries to ascertain the identities of the individuals. Things turn from strange to frightening when there is a freak power outage in the elevator, and the girl in the elevator is wounded with what appears to be a bite. Dwight attempts to rappel down the elevator shaft via a pulley to try and fix the elevator, but security guard Ramirez says that the Devil would stop any attempts to help his victims as more supernatural things occur; this proves there is a demonic entity in the elevator haunting the passengers.
There's this line that nearly killed me with laughter, the religious nut Ramirez says that everything goes wrong when the devil is near, he throws a piece of pizza and it lands on the cheese side and says that the jelly side always lands up, oh, my God, seriously?! So all those times I was cooking in the kitchen when my chicken burned, it was the devil! All those times I fell down, it was the work of the devil! How could you ever take that line seriously? I also was watching the movie with my friends and once again we took the classic bet 10 dollars for who would guess the devil, I won, again! My opinion is, a lot of old people are the devil, they cling onto the god skirt later in life claiming that it's because they are about to die and they need to get into heaven, no! They are covering something else! I digress, anyways, when the devil reveals herself, the guy that she's after confesses to his sin and she's like "damn, I really wanted you" .really? You went through all this trouble and all he has to do is say his sin out loud and all is forgiven? Also the whole religious factor was silly in my opinion, why not just make it a demon entity in the elevator? It's hard to believe that the devil doesn't have better things to do than haunt a couple of dead beats.
However, my review isn't all complaints. Shamalamadingdong actually does a decent job with atmosphere and the story. Even though the script needs some major work without the clichés, there was some incredible potential for a great story, even an excellent franchise that we need since the Saw series came to an end last year. I like the whole idea of a demon haunting those who have done wrong in life waiting to confess and get the punishment they truly deserve. The characters were interesting, except for Ramirez who can easily get on a lot of people's nerves, and the effects were actually pretty good. I would say this is definitely an improvement over Shamalamadingdong's previous works. He's come a long way and hopefully he just chooses better scripts or learns how to edit, we need the tension still, he knows he can do it, we believe in you Shamalmadingdong!
Let me first start off by saying that I am in no shape, way or form a fan of M. Night Shylaman. From the get go with sixth sense I called that twist ending in the film;s first ten minutes and what remained for me was highly over rated. He followed that up the unintentionally laughable Unbreakable, and than with signs which was overly generic but executed well. Than came the questionable attempt lady in the water, the mega let down but nicely executed village and finally the big kick in the face the happening. Without a doubt one of the worst films ever made. But he should not be a deciding factor when it comes to this film because he's only come up with the story outline and he produced under his new production company. The main people responsible for this film are Brian Nelson who write the brilliant Hard Candy and John Erick Dowdle of The Poughkeepsie Tapes and Quarantine. So with that combo I had some expectations going in and the stylish and effective trailer and TV spots had spiked my interest to say the least. And here's what I thought. It just blew me away. This tightly executed psychological horror thriller left me speechless. From the opening credits which feature a reverse Philadelphia and an astounding classic thriller score I was intrigued. And as the film introduced it's story line and characters I became completely engaged. And as the film moved into it's main agenda I was on the edge of my seat with ample anticipation. And the finale well I'll just keep my mouth shut. But here's what I have to say with solid performances, suspenseful pacing, a clever and original story line and really good direction Devil is without a doubt one of the most effective genre pieces to come out in some time. Like it's characters you are held captive for it's entire running time. It's one of those classic suspense thrillers thats character based and just keeps working its angles and keeps you guessing until the very end. Sadly the movie is not without flaws but you should know to truly enjoy it you must succumb to the goofiness of its plot and some of the scenes that need to be inserted to move the film along. That being said what remains is a nifty, clever, sweaty palm inducing, intelligent exercise in fear and hysteria well worth the price of admission.
After several weaker movies, Shyamalan begin to work on a new trilogy
about the presence of supernatural evil in big cities. He concentrated
on the script and preferred to let other people direct the movie and so
you might expect that this first part of Shyamalan's renaissance must
be a well elaborated and twisted masterpiece. Well, this is absolutely
not the case, there are no major twists or surprises in the story. But
that doesn't mean that this movie is without the glimpse of a doubt a
very well done psycho thriller.
Let me mention the negative points first. The movie isn't really long. There are only two minor twists and the first one is not that much surprising while the second one is an interesting turning point of the story but also a little bit predictable towards the end of the movie. The story is not really innovating and this time, Shyamalan really delivers what he announces in the previews. Because of the short running time, not every character is extremely well developed and profound. The critical and philosophic influence that many movies of Shyamalan had is not very present in this movie.
But there are more positive points about this movie. There is a high tension present throughout the whole length of the movie and this is what makes the watching experience breathless and intense, you don't see time pass at all. The movie spares out the unnecessary and goes straight in your face which isn't that usual for Shyamalan's earlier works. That is something new, fresh and innovative coming from him and a little positive surprise for many but maybe also a little deception for some of his more purist fans. The interactions between the characters in the elevator are intense and very interesting. Every character has a very unique and special behaviour and something interesting to hide even if the characters could have been more developed if the movie had maybe twenty minutes more running time. The actions in the movie become more and more intense towards the finish and end up in a well done finale that leaves you with no open questions.
All in all, this is surely not the best of Shyamalan's movies but way better than the last stuff he has done before this movie. It is not a very surprising and philosophical movie, but rather a short and intense psycho thriller. It is a very good movie but far away from being the best movie of the year. It is worth watching it at the cinema or at home, but i wouldn't recommend buying this movie at the full price without having seen it before.
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