Right off the bat, Devil had two strikes against it ; it's rated PG-13 and the story is from the mind of twist-hungry M. Night Shyamalan, who also produced the film - this would have been an incredibly good factor working in the film's favor about ten years ago, but in these current post-Happening days .... not so much. But it also had something good going for it ; a pretty damn solid premise. Five people are stuck in an elevator. One of them is the Devil. It was this premise that brought my ass into the theatre. And all things considered, my money was well spent. Devil is a pretty mediocre film all around, but it's one that held my interest and kept me entertained throughout most of its runtime and for that, I can look past its shortcomings.
One of the main problems I had with the film was that not enough time was spent on the characters stuck in the elevator, characters who weren't all that interesting to begin with (another pretty prominent issue I had with it). More of the runtime is spent focused on a detective trying to figure out what's going on and get those characters out of the elevator alive, which makes it less of a claustrophobic experience wherein you're more an observer of the action than a part of it. I can't help but feel it would've been a much better film had we as an audience been made to feel like we were trapped in that tiny cramped elevator with the characters. It certaintly would've made for a scarier experience, especially for me given my moderate fear of elevators. Nevertheless, a pretty good job was done keeping things interesting and entertaining within the confines of such a limited premise and I understand that it would've been nearly impossible to set the entire movie in the elevator.
Another issue I had with the movie was with the latter parts of it, particularly the ending. Horror films more than any other genre tend to fall apart towards the end and Devil is no exception. The twist, or should I say twists, are highly unimpressive and though I admittedly didn't see them coming from a mile away, I was far from blown away or shocked once they arrived. In other words, this is no Bruce Willis has been dead the whole time type shit, proving once more that M. Night has lost a lot of his flair when it comes to the big twist.
But again, I think the most important thing here is that I had a great time riding the edge of my seat waiting for that big mind blowing ending to come, even if it never did come. Ya it's silly at times and no it's not the best of films, but I was ultimately pleasantly surprised by this little satanic thriller, perhaps thanks in part to the low expectations I had going into it. With Quarantine and now Devil, director John Erick Dowdle is two for two in my book - and M. Night has slightly redeemed himself for his last couple ideas. Don't be scared off by his name being attached, as this is in my opinion one of the best things he's put his stamp on in many years.
And that poster is fuckin' awesome, is it not?