Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

DEVIL (2010)

>> Monday, September 20, 2010

You get to die! You get to die! You all get to DIE!

There are ideas called 'napkin ideas'. These ideas usually form when you're sitting at a coffee shop or a restaurant and doing nothing but enjoying the afternoon sun or people watching (for all you stalkers out there). All of sudden and for no apparent reason a great idea pops into your head. Instead of letting it fly off into Neverland ceasing to be heard of again, you grab a napkin, steal the waitress's pen and write madly. That random idea right there, soon turns into an amazing idea that will lead to people asking you "how the hell you ever thought of it". To which you reply - I dunno, guess I'm a friggin' genius.

Then there are ideas you get in other places - like in the bathtub (Archimedes), in your car and maybe, just maybe... in a friggin' elevator. This is undoubtedly where M. Night Shyamalan got his 'brilliant' idea for Devil. I'm guessing he threw this idea together when he was 'going down' (laugh out loud if you must, those around you won't judge - I promise).

I want to quote what is probably one of the funniest movies truths I've heard of recently. This statement comes from Quint over at Ain't It Cool News when describing the trailer for Devil:

"The 'Shyamalan Groan' is well documented as the trailer for the first Night Chronicles flick, Devil, continues to screen. If you're not familiar with the term, it's when that trailer plays and Shyamalan's name comes up ("From the mind of M. Night Shyamalan") inducing groans and/or laughter from the audience."

After such Shyamalan bombs as Lady in the Water (2006) and The Last Airbender (2010) it's no wonder why people think Devil is another one of M. Night Shyamalan's attempts to relive his glory days of The Sixth Sense (1999) - and don't get me wrong, it most definitely is. Now I understand this movie was not directed or fully penned out by Captain Twist, but from this point forward (and since it is M. Night's idea) I will be referring to it as a movie belonging to him. Mainly because Shyamalan should be the one to blame for this and probably (although hopefully not) the second and third installments of the upcoming Night Chronicles. Also, I just don't feel like I should blame director John Erick Dowdle, who also directed 2008's Quarantine (which I really liked); nor should it be the fault of the other writer, Brian Nelson, who wrote the awesomely dark Hard Candy (2005). My guess is that even if either of those two wanted to change anything about Shyamalan's 'idea', he probably would've stopped them. There's no reason those two couldn't have come up with something better put together than what they did. The only bad move Dowdle and Nelson really made with Devil was getting involved with The Night Chronicles to begin with.

Devil begins one dark and stormy day when five strangers enter an elevator in a New York City high rise. Much to their chagrin, the elevator gets stuck and no matter what anybody does it seems to be good and jammed (I blame gremlins). Thankfully the building's security and eventually the police are informed, and the passengers are relived to hear they'll be out in no time. There's no real hurry, anyways, as the biggest threat seems to be the annoying mattress salesman's (Geoffrey Arend) badly timed humour. That is, there's no hurry until the lights go out and somebody dies... (dum, dum, DUM!!!). Bad murder mystery anyone? As expected, that's when everybody goes into panic mode including the security personnel and Detective Bowden (Chris Messina), who have been keeping a keen eye on the situation via a security camera that's wedged into the corner of the elevator car.

As a rule of thumb (and common sense, really) I tend to dislike a movie more when it gets lazy and uses a character to tie up all the loose ends and/or explain the rules of the movie. In Devil that role is filled by the security guard Ramirez (Jacob Vargas), who is assigned to watch over the building's video surveillance. Turns out his religious grandma (or some other wise entity in his life) warned him about the Devil, and told him stories of how it would occasionally come to Earth in human form to torture the poor souls it was about to drag to Hell. Worse yet, when the Devil has it's fun - that's when everything around you starts going wrong. The security guard then (and I'm not shitting you here) drops his jam-draped toast onto the ground showing that it lands "jam side down". Goosebumps abound! Detective Bowden scoffs at security guard for mentioning this idea (even with such compelling proof) and continues on his merry little detective way - collecting crazy things like 'clues' and 'evidence'. It's only later on when things get really crazy that the detective (who has a dark, alcoholic past by the way [shocking, I know]) looks Ramirez in the eye and says "Alright, hypothetically speaking, lets say your right...". (the nerve of some people, hey?). If that wasn't bad enough we have an unknown voice narrating Devil that makes what the security guard says a retread anyways (actually, maybe they're one and the same). Fail.

As for the ending, well I won't 'spoil' it for you - but this is an M. Night vehicle so you know it's gonna be a twist. For the record, it's lamer than the end 0f The Village (2004) - I know, I didn't think it was possible, either. The other thing that drove me crazy in this movie was the score. Some horror movies get it right (Halloween [1978], The Exorcist [1973] and Jaws [1975] - just to name a few), but here what you get is like a bad version of the music from Inception (2010). It seems to come at the wrong times and far too often and overbearing and once again drives home the idea that the filmmakers were being lazy and hoping the music would make Devil scarier. That, or they simply didn't know any better - which is even worse. Same goes for M. Night's tired idea that not seeing your villain is much scarier than seeing it (like he had used with Signs (2002) and The Village) - hence half the action in this film being in the dark (and the irony is not lost on me that the same could be said for M. Night and his story-telling skills).

I am giving Devil a closed door. It shouldn't be a surprise that I nor anybody with memories of the Final Destination or Saw series, would find this first installment of Shyamalan's 'Night Chronicles' a wholly unoriginal piece. You'll feel that comparison more if you see the film when Devil begins to reference its tag line - `Bad things happen for a reason`. Even at 75 minutes it drags on long enough to make it hard to believe that by the end there's not a single character you care about. This may have made a better short film in the end - hell, we may find that to be true with the two remaining pictures. And I want to be clear here. I don't think this was that terrible an idea. I like horror movies and at some point we have to admit every movie has something they seemed to have ripped off from something else - but there's an original a refreshing way to go about it. As aforementioned, Devil felt like a lazy mess that in the end will be nothing more than a discount DVD, sitting in a bin at your local pharmacy with the likes of Marmaduke and Vampires Suck. Oh, M. Night, what happened to you? You used to be so cool...

*Stills courtesy of Universal Pictures


About This Blog

  © Free Blogger Templates Skyblue by 2008

Back to TOP