Review: Devil by Jamie

Spoilers Ahead!

I’ve been trying to write about this film for almost a week now. The reason being that I don’t want to come of as just another Shyamalan hater just because I didn’t like this film. Don’t get me wrong, I dislike the films of Mr. M. Night Shyamalan but I don’t want to seem like one of those people who are just jumping on the bandwagon without any particular reason and yet I’m sure writing a negative review of ‘Devil’ will attract exactly those kinds of accusations. Balls to it. I can’t help feeling the way that I do.

I had a small glimmer of hope for this film. Lately I’d come to regard Shyamalan a bit as I see George Lucas these days, as a man who can come up with really quite good ideas but when it comes to the execution of those ideas he just can’t quite pull it off. With ‘Devil’ the basic idea was that the idea for the story had come from Shyamalan but everything else such as the screenplay writing and directing at duties would be handled by other people. Perfect, I thought to myself, this is exactly the way that he should do things for the time being. Maybe watching other directors put his ideas on the screen would give him some pointers on how he could do it better himself.

Of course, now I think of it, similar thoughts were running through my head when I heard that he was directing ‘The Last Airbender’. Great, I thought to myself, this is exactly the that he should do things for the time being. Maybe focusing on directing rather than the story will enable him to perfect his craft. Well, I think we all know how that turned out.

So, yeah, I was willing to give Devil a chance. That was my mistake. The basic premise of the film is that there are five people with questionable backgrounds who are all trapped in a lift (elevator for my American readers) and they are slowly killed off one by one. The reason? Why, the Devil’s in the lift as well of course! Why? Well, apparently it’s just something he does from time to time for no discernable reason.

Meanwhile there’s a couple of cops and security guards on the outside watching them through the CCTV cameras in the lift and trying to find out who each person is because, whilst the people in the lift can hear them, they can‘t hear the people in the lift so they can‘t just tell them who they are. Their time may be better spent trying to focus on just getting the people the hell out of their because the efforts of the emergency services to do just that are pretty fucking poor. Like one guy with a saw. How about you get two guys with saws, cutting from both sides and meeting in the middle? Seriously. Whilst this piss poor rescue attempt is going on and the cops are running around trying to find out who each person is, more and more people are getting killed. Killed to death!

Oh, also one of the cops has a back story wherein his family wife and son were killed in a hit and run accident with the driver of the other vehicle leaving a note behind at the scene simply saying “I’m so sorry”. I wonder if that will play any part in this film later on? In the interest of full disclosure I didn’t wonder if that would play any part in the film later. I don’t know why. It was such an obvious twist looking back on it and this is an M. Night film so a twist should always be at least kinda expected. The only thing I can think is that I was so bored watching this film that I honestly didn’t want to think too deeply about it. Still, I feel stupid at not figuring out. On the other hand I did work out the other twist in the film pretty early on, that being who the Devil actually was so I guess I win at that. Go Team!

So yeah, that’s pretty much the plot. Some people are trapped in a lift. Other people aren’t. Sometimes the people in the lift die. The main problem with the film was just how insanely boring it was. Imagine watching five people trapped in a lift and occasionally sometimes watching other people watching five people trapped in a lift. It would be far more interesting than this film because at least that wouldn’t try to build up faux tension without any kind of pay off. Seriously, anytime it seems like something is about to happen in this film, the lights go out, the screen goes dark, you hear a few weird noises and bam! The lights go on and there’s a corpse! It’s like fucking someone right up until you’re close to the point of climaxing and then just stopping. What’s the fucking point?

To top it all off, there’s no sense of mystery to the film. The film’s advertising and even the title give away exactly what the plot is. There are five people trapped in a lift and one of them is the Devil. Well, thanks very much. Hell, you could tell who the Devil was from watching the trailer alone so the only thing you’re left with is the hope that there will be some interesting death scenes. I’m not talking about bullshit Saw/Hostel torture scenes but something. I mean, this is the motherfucking Devil we’re talking about. He should be able to pull something interesting off. But no, what we’re treated to is darkness and an increasing body count. Well, whoop-de-fuck. Maybe I’m jaded or desensitized to violence to such an extent that I need to see something but come on, who isn’t in this day and age?

it would have also been nice if maybe, just maybe there was an element that hinted that maybe it wasn’t the Devil, at least until the big reveal at the end. Maybe it was someone who was just going mad and had based their killing spree on old tales of what the Devil supposedly did but no. It’s pretty much shown that there’s no way that anyone in that lift could have pulled off the killings without being some ancient malevolent force so that’s lame also.

I suppose the acting wasn’t bad but it wasn’t particularly great either. I didn’t really care about any of the characters because they never really developed to any kind of stage where you could. Perhaps the oddest thing about the film is that the opening five minutes is just a weird shot flying through the city but upside down. It made me feel physically sick. Thanks movie.

So yeah at the end of the day, the film was just boring beyond belief and whilst the film was apparently just M. Night’s idea I have a hard time believing that was his only input. It just felt too much like a film that he would have made otherwise. I don’t know the exact level of his involvement but I think it was probably a little more than advertised. I still feel the need to give Shyamalan one last chance, something I feel every time I’m burned by him, because I do think there’s still a good film maker in there somewhere but I’m starting to think that it may have died, suffocated beneath the layers of whatever the hell he has become. Still, I do love ‘The Happening’. Sure it fails on every level of being a good film but it is fucking hilarious. Sadly Devil is not The Happening and so it gets one pint out of five. Satan deserved so much better. Laterz.

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