Devil (tbc)

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Review byMatthew Turner18/09/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 88 mins

Enjoyable, well acted supernatural thriller that does exactly what it says on the tin and is nowhere near as bad as its lack of press screenings would suggest.

What's it all about?
Directed by John Erick Dowdle, but “from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan” (who gets a story credit), Devil is the first instalment of the ominous-sounding Night Chronicles, a series of stand-alone horror films overseen by the man who brought you The Last Airbender. The set-up is simple: five total strangers (shifty ex-marine Logan Marshall-Green, creepy mattress salesman Geoffrey Arend, little old lady Jenny O'Hara, security guard temp Bokeem Woodbine and enigmatic brunette Bojana Novakovic) find themselves stuck in a lift in a Philadelphia office building and one of them turns out to be the Devil.

As the lift inhabitants start getting killed off in mysterious circumstances (the lights go off and when they come on again, someone's dead), ultra-religious security guard Ramirez (Jacob Vargas) begins to suspect the hand of El Diablo. And when police detective Bowden (Chris Messina) starts investigating the rapidly narrowing list of suspects, it turns out that each of them has something to hide.

The Good
The performances are excellent and the film benefits greatly from having a cast comprised of relative unknowns as it makes the game of Spot The Devil that much more fun. Messina is particularly good as Bowden, who has a tragic backstory of his own.

The script is nicely structured, layering character revelations on top of creepy death scenes and building an effectively tense atmosphere throughout. Similarly, director Dowdle gets the tone exactly right, playing it commendably straight rather than going over the top – there are also a few nicely subtle touches, such as the way Ramirez's colleague (Matt Craven) initially reacts to his Devil-based theories.

The Bad
If there's a problem with the film, it's only that it cops out slightly in terms of the onscreen violence, which is odd, given its 15 certificate – all the deaths (including a couple of non-lift-based deaths) happen offscreen, which might frustrate certain members of the film's target audience.

Worth seeing?
Devil is an enjoyable supernatural thriller that delivers exactly what it promises – as long as you're not expecting anything other than a film about five people being stuck in the lift and one of them being the Devil, you won't be disappointed.

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Content updated: 14/12/2019 10:52

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