The last time I was really fooled by a movie – by that I mean having my socks blown off, folded, and replaced in my bureau drawer – was in 1999, when writer-director M. Night Shyamalan gave us The Sixth Sense. Shyamalan followed that ingenious thriller with a string of duds and, although I should know better by now, I continue to hope that someday he will rediscover his old magic. That’s why I had (dwindling) hopes for Devil, the new horror film not directed by Shyamalan, but produced by him and based on his story.
I give up. Devil does have a few nice moments, but those come courtesy not of the script but of director John Erick Dowdle, who manages to deliver a few jolts in the movie’s interesting locale: a cramped office-building elevator in which five people are trapped. One of the five is the devil – or so we are told in a lame narrative device.
One by one, the members of this little group are bumped off. Whodunit? Which of them is the devil? This setup presents a storytelling challenge, because anyone who has ever read Agatha Christie, or seen more than a few films like this one, will probably anticipate Shyamalan’s obligatory “twist.”
What we are left with is yet another uninspired Shyamalan movie, a 30-minute Twilight Zone episode stretched out to feature-film length. That’s not good enough, not from the man who gave us The Sixth Sense. Shyamalan is either unwilling or unable to recapture that old magic, and so, like I said earlier, I give up. Grade: C
Director: John Erick Dowdle Cast: Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O’Hara, Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, Geoffrey Arend, Jacob Vargas, Matt Craven, Joshua Peace, Caroline Dhavernas Release: 2010
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