Very few movies have gotten the reaction in their final moments like “The Sixth Sense,” and in my opinion NONE of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies have come close to touching the surprise reveal in the way “The Sixth Sense” did. “Devil” is no exception in my book. The twist in the plot, the “Omg Gasp” moment, the set up, the music, and even the camera angles were nothing I haven’t seen. Does that mean then that I didn’t enjoy the film? Does it insinuate that it was a bad film? No. I jumped a few times, I had a few laughs, and I got to play detective … well I only played detective for 10 ten minutes, which was how long it took me to see what was going on. Don’t worry, no spoilers here.
M. Night Shyamalan went from wildly cool and inventive to, kind of corny and predictable. The problem is not M. Night. The problem is that you can not top “The Sixth Sense.” Sure, “Unbreakable” was a visual platter of awesome and was creatively intuitive. A majority of folks thought “Signs” was also an M. Night gem; however, I beg to differ and nothing can change my mind. “The Village” was, well, odd. “Lady In The Water” was not exactly noteworthy and good heavens do NOT get me started on “The Happening,” which knocked the wind outta me and not in a good way.
I, by no means, have the intention of bashing M. Night, or downgrading him as a writer/director/producer. I just feel that his ideas are often brilliant, but the execution leaves some of those ideas, well, dead as executions tend to do. Which brings me to “Devil,” for which he produced and come up the story. It was a solid film. Let me put it to you this way, it was better than I expected. I went in expecting to laugh at the sheer suggestion of what an M. Night film USED to be. I now say publicly I was wrong. Predictable or not, this film goes back to the roots of what made Shyamalan successful in the first place: simplicity. We as an audience don’t need overly complex and wildly unimaginable to be shocked or scared. “Devil” is simple, a group of people are stuck in an elevator, one of them is the devil. Simple, yet in your face and creepy.
There were some definite jump moments. I literally jumped out of my chair at one point. We all know what it’s like to be sitting in a theater, watching a scary movie, and the music coupled with the anticipation makes you jump when there’s a loud noise, even though you knew for five minutes it was coming. There were some great camera shots using broken shards of mirror but there were also some cornier moments that took place in pitch black until the characters figured out that their cell phones could be used as a light source even though they had no signal. (Quick side note: The whole “oh-no-my-cell-phone-has-no-service” bit in scary movies is really starting to get on my nerves.) The actors did well at averting the suspicions thrust upon their characters. And as always, there’s a moral to this story, which I honestly appreciated.
Is “Devil” a must see? I wouldn’t necessarily say so. But I do suggest that if you do want to see it, and you want to see it without spoilers coming at you from Twitter, Facebook, or word of mouth, go see it as soon as you can or you may be quite disappointed. On the Jess-o-meter, I give “Devil” the most improved production by M. Night. Keep in mind that this film does deal with religious undertones and is not intended for everybody. It has been rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, thematic material and some language including sexual references. Also, keep in mind that “Devil” is the first of three films featured in The Night Chronicles, which are features produced by M. Night, who also makes up the story, but are written and directed by up and coming filmmakers, giving them the chance to break out. Kudos to director John Erick Dowdle and writer Brian Nelson. “Devil” is certainly a great jumping off point for The Night Chronicles.
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