M. Night Shyamalan is back in theatres… or is he. Devil is the first episode of the Night Chronicles, a series of films produced by M. Night Shyamalan. The film itself is directed by John Erick Dowdle (2008’s [rec] remake Quarantine) and the script is written by Brian Nelson (30 Days of Night). The script is based on a story by Shyamalan. Other than a producing credit and his name attached to the banner, Shyamalan has little else to do with the film. Unfortunately, Shyamalan’s name isn’t going to help this otherwise entertaining supernatural thriller.
Five strangers get stuck in an elevator in a high rise office building. As security and police work hard to try and free them, someone or something is in the elevator picking at their fears and paranoia. Each person has a reason for being there. Is it a mere coincidence, an elaborate plot, or something darker.
Devil starts pretty quickly and (With an 80 minute runtime) doesn’t waste much time establishing the characters and story. The director manages to keep things interesting, moving from the claustrophobic elevator to various locations throughout the building, making very good use of space. Devil is not ploughing original plains, but what it does, it does well. Performances are consistant and overall pretty good. Feelings shift constantly between the characters as their true natures and insecurities are exposed. There are a few silly points/moments to do with superstition, but they don’t actually ruin the film. The tension keeps pace as the film builds to a fairly predictable ending. Thats not to say its a bad ending, I was only able to predict half of it, and I did enjoy the final outcome.
Devil does not reach for greatness, but it is a fun little film that does manage to entertain. Shyamalan’s limited involvement may be its saving grace, but his name on the banner isn’t helping it! If you like supernatural thrillers, and can get past Shyamalan’s name, definately check this one out!