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"Devil" Review

It's a sign of just how fed up the moviegoing public is with M. Night Shyamalan - I'm not even going to bother checking if I spelled that correctly - that when the trailer for Devil appeared last summer, the mere sight of his name being connected with the project was greeted with snickers and murmurs of, "Well, it's safe to miss this one." Even though he was only producing and providing the story to another writer and director to execute, his precipitous decline from his debut tag-team of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable had made him a laughingstock, especially on the heels of his generally panned live-action version of The Last Airbender. Are the sins of the father to be visited on the cinematic progeny?

The premise of Devil is straightforward: Five people get into an elevator that gets stuck and then bad things happen because one of them may see this coming...may be...wait for it...the DEVIL!!! (Dun-dun-DUHN!!!!) With a security camera that can see in, but the intercom not allowing for the passengers to be heard, a police detective with a lot of personal baggage that will of course be relevant to the plot twists and turns - no, he's not already dead or a super villain - races to free them and catch the killer who is (SPOILER ALERT!) whacking the occupants one by one.

For the first part of this brief (80 minutes) movie, I was having great sport yelling unheeded advice at the brain-dead doofs in the elevator (e.g. no one thinks to use their cell phones as flashlights until the cop suggests it) and until the detective gets into the game with his Sherlock hat it felt like our intelligence was going to be insulted, but it gets better though it's pretty obvious if you've seen a couple of these movies who the ultimate villain will be. There is an interesting angle of spirituality at play, but Night's puppets choose to hammer the point home in a voice-over narration to the point where whatever profundity may've been found is rendered trite.

If you don't go in expecting too much, Devil is an adequate popcorn muncher that manages to be more satisfying than anything its creator as put out in a decade, yet too slight to be really recommendable.

Score: 4/10. Catch on cable.


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