M. Night Shyamalan has gotten his turn of critical praise and abuse over the years. His first box-office smash, The Sixth Sense, grossed 293.5 million dollars and was given the Academy nod with six nominations including Best Director.
He followed up this success with other mind bending mysteries like Unbreakable and Signs, but soon after, lost much credibility to many by the releases of The Village, Lady In The Water and the recent release of the awful The Last Airbender, an unnecessary adaptation of a Nickelodeon cartoon series.
Despite what others think, Shyamalan has proved to have the mind of a thriller genius. All of his movies have had interesting premises, the weak spots of them being that they were not carried out as well as they could have been.
With the release of Devil, it would be stupid not to be skeptical. Luckily, Shyamalan has taken a rest from the director’s chair and handed out his idea to others, which has seemed to be a wise decision.
Devil begins with a biblical warning from 1 Peter 5:8, “…your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,” which sets the tone for the entire film. This thrill ride follows a story of fate in which five random strangers find themselves entrapped in a broken elevator.
The already uncomfortable situation turns quickly into a classic “whodunit” as various characters get picked off by an unknown slaughterer when the lights periodically flicker and die. On the other side of the door, Detective Bowden (Chris Messina), who has a haunted past of his own, attempts to discover the culprit behind the killings, free the passengers and prevent any more damage, which seems impossible in that circumstance.
Running at 80 minutes, Devil blurs the line of reality and the supernatural, creating doubts about every character’s motives. The writing is salted with humor and peppered with tension, concluding with a hook and meaning that serves as a massive payoff to a deserving audience. As the credits rolled, I found myself greatly pleased knowing that Shyamalan has redeemed his reputation with this claustrophobic thriller.
8 out of 10