Directed by John Erick Dowdle [Other horror films: The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007), Quarantine (2008), As Above, So Below (2014)]
To be honest, I was hoping for a bit more from this one. Now, Devil is a movie I’ve seen before, but it’s been years upon years, and I was thinking that maybe, if I went in with fresh eyes, I could garner a bit more enjoyment from this one than I got the first time through (in which I found the movie passable but little more). Alas, that’s not really what happened.
Certainly the basic story of the movie is interesting, but I could have done without any of the religious talking points thrown in, and wish that the film was more based on, you know, reality. In particular, Jacob Vargas’ character Ramirez was pretty bad, especially when he said that even people who say they don’t believe in the Devil actually do, a little bit. Yeah, that’s not how it works, but this character’s mind was too warped by religion for anything otherwise to make sense to him, I suspect.
I guess a big part of my issues with Devil is that I didn’t find the mystery of who the Devil was all that interesting. So we know it’s one of the people trapped in the elevator, and we’re supposed to be kept on our toes about the Devil’s human form, despite the fact we know that M. Night Shyamalan was partially responsible for the story? Yeah, I don’t think so. The ending itself was cliché enough, what with a reveal that was somewhat obvious, but the whole movie suffers from just feeling too Hollywood.
It’s not like the movie didn’t have some potential. If the story had been less based on religious tripe as opposed to an actual mystery regarding one of those trapped being a serial killer, the movie might have been pretty good (especially considering that some of the cinematography is top-notch – look at that scene on the roof with a guy chasing a hat). The route they went, though, might work for some people, but it left me rather disinterested.
Chris Messina was okay. I mean, he was pretty generic toward the end, but hey, it’s only to be expected. More enjoyable was Bokeem Woodbine, and the fact he dealt with claustrophobia was a nice character addition. Matt Craven had a very familiar face (I’ve seen him in Disturbia, I guess, but I can’t imagine that’s how I recognize him – maybe from the Assault on Precinct 13 remake?), and I rather enjoyed his character (especially his back-and-forth with Jacob Vargas). Jenny O’Hara (Wishmaster) was also nice to see again, but I don’t think her character really had much to do.
Despite some solid performances, though, Devil still felt, at best, competent. I can personally say that I had an okay time for a good amount of the film. However, I can also say that the ending was almost pathetically anticipated, and I wish that they had gone a different direction with this one.
This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Devil.