Written by: alex1176
M. Night Shyamalan's directorial career started out like gangbusters. With "The Sixth Sense", "Unbreakable" and to some extent, "Signs", it seemed that a legitimate successor to Hitchcock had finally arrived. And then, unfortunately, it went all so wrong. The young director has manage to make major miscalcuations with every movie he's made so far. And that doesn't stop with his directorial efforts. "Devil", a low-budget PG-13 horror film from Universal is embarrasingly bad. Shyamalan wrote its story and produced it leaving the job of director to John Erick Dowdle.
Maybe it's because "Speed" made the "stuck in an elevator" scenario so memorable, but to revisit it makes little sense. We all know the conventions as a group of people get paranoid and angry while the cable wires snap above them. The sense of tension and dread that accumulates while they wait to be rescued is key to making such a familar scene work.
That doesn't happen with "Devil" which portrays five people stuck in a freight elevator while they each get killed one by one (seemingly by the devil). I can imagine the idea was to make a "Clue"-like murder mystery, but the whole thing collapses under its own weight. The reason being is first and foremost, the acting is so over-the-top and cheesy. With the second being the cliche character types. There's the tough African American, the religious Hispanic (not in the elevator), the pretty girl and the scared old lady. Oh yes, don't forget the troubled ex-con. All these stock characters are as old as dirt and are brought to life with horrible dialogue.
"Devil" is only 80 minutes long and that's the best thing I can say about it. If it were any longer, I'd probably feel just as frustrated as the elevator passengers. The movie concludes with a big "twist" at the end, but it's one of those "cheat" twists. The ones you can't possibly predict because it's a cheap plot device writers use when they can't think up clever ways to conclude their story. I saw "Devil" at a discount theater during the evening of Thanksgiving Day. When it was over, I was even more thankful for knowing it had ended.