“Devil” comes from a story by M. Night Shyamalan.  That’s either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you view his craft/talent.  Whatever the case, the director and screenwriter are other people, so we’re not seeing a true, M. Night movie.

“Devil” starts us off with a narrator talking about a story his mom used to tell him when he was a boy.  A story about the devil.  No, not the TSA.  The actual devil that you read about in the bible.  The story goes like this: the devil makes his appearance when someone commits suicide, then the devil comes for the souls of those who are damned; but before he kills the damned, he tortures them.

So, after we see a suicide, 5 people enter an elevator, and bad things start to happen.  The 5 are a young, white guy; a creepy salesman; an old lady; a pretty, young woman; and a security guard for the building played by Bokeem Woodbine.   One of them is the devil.  Supposedly.  This is where it gets fun.  Guessing who it is; and it is tough to do.

But let me talk about Woodbine for a bit.  He does look like the devil.  He has evil-looking eyes, his teeth look sharpened (has anyone else noticed that?), and he gets sweaty easily like he’s been working out in the fields.  Oh, he’s the most familiar face in this movie, too.  I know, that seems like a hint that this is a crappy movie.  Well, it is…normally.  But surprisingly, it doesn’t apply in this case.  Now, if I told you Alfonso Ribeiro is the most familiar face in a movie, you should run from that movie.

Back to the devil and the damned in the elevator.   They are not alone in their sufferings.  Security guards — and eventually cops — are watching through the security camera.  Damn, I wonder if security guards saw me put my hand up my date’s skirt while we were in the elevator in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan?  Anyway…those trapped in the elevator can hear the security guards, but the guard can’t hear the ones in the elevator.  One by one, the elevator people are killed as cops and firefighters rush to free them and prevent the killer from taking more lives.

Despite what you see in the trailers, this is not a horror movie.  It’s more of a suspense/thriller, with a few shocking bits thrown intermittently throughout the movie.   People may be thrown off when they expect one genre, and get another.  Their minds can’t adjust, and they give the movie a bad review because of it.  Sure, the studios deserve a slap for giving us a bait and switch, but as for the movie itself…”Devil” is a solid suspense/thriller.  The acting is very good, the pacing is tight, and the direction is good.  Typical of M. Night’s stories, it has some type of surprise or twist ending, albeit a light one.  It definitely pales compared to the “ooohhh, s@#t!” moment of “The Sixth Sense,” so don’t expect much of a twist.

And so, we come to my most memorable, movie moment.  And that is the final shot that has the narrator saying that if the devil exists, then so does God.  It’s some comfort to know that there are checks and balances in the Universe.  But from what I remember reading in the bible, God has his temper, too.   So it’s best to watch out for both sides.

M

 

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