Saturday, September 18, 2010

"If he could take on any human form, why not Elizabeth Hurley again?" A Review of Devil

So I just finished watching Devil, the latest film by everyone's favorite master of plot twists: M. Night Shyamalan.
So when I went to go see this was wasn't going in with high hopes, I wasn't expecting a spectacular film, I was expecting an honestly good horror movie. And that's what I got.
Devil is an honestly good horror movie, better than the ones they were advertising in the trailers before the movie started (if you've seen them you know what I mean). It also has a somewhat good moral that comes to play in the final act of the film. Sure, it didn't scare me to the point where I won't go into an elevator (as I had said it might if it were that scary) but it didn't have to. To be honest after Paranormal Activity I've become more desensitized to horror films, hell most people these days have been desensitized. Nothing really scares us anymore, with the exception of Paranormal Activity (which was mainly due to it's genre and subject matter).
I was never scared by anything in Devil, but that was a given. We've become so desensitized to horror movies that anything you see in the movie is more or less a sign that the victim isn't the Devil. But you aren't going to be assaulted with continuous "jump-scares" like in every other horror movie or horror movie trailer from the past ten years. Instead the movie brilliantly utilizes the tension of the situation and suspense to keep the audience engaged in the happenings going on in the building that has been infiltrated by El Diablo (and one ornery raccoon). Every time the lights begin to flicker and you realize someone's going to die, you feel a sense of suspense that keeps you wondering who the devil is until the end.As a side note I correctly guessed who the Devil was at the beginning of the movie.

In my previous post on Friday I described the film (in a rather humorous tone mind you) that it sounded like a Twilight Zone episode, and that's what it honestly boils down to. It's a Twilight Zone episode with a 10 million dollar budget. It's a solid film though, I never once felt that the story was coming to a stop. It keeps you engaged with the building suspense and imminent threat of yet another flicker of the lights.

The movie manages to carve out characters that are slightly more than one dimensional victims. I didn't honestly care for the victims in the elevator, none truly made me emotionally involved. However the people trying to get these hapless victims of a "Devil's Meeting" out of the elevator are much more relateable. The Detective in the film feels more like the main protagonist of the film than anyone in the elevator. Mostly because he is given more development during the start of the film.

If there is one thing wrong with this film it's the narrator. The narrator happens to be one of the security personnel in the building who constantly narrates for the sake of explaining what's going on. He explains that his mother told him the story about "The Devil's Meeting" and how it plays out. All it really serves as an explanation to things that honestly don't need explanation. With a title like "Devil" most will know instantly what is going on. The Devil is in an elevator with four sinners who he plans on torturing and taking to hell. The narrator serves no true purpose other than needless exposition. If they removed him from the film it wouldn't change anything.

So what's the verdict? Does this film mean Shyamalan has come back from his dry spell?

Well... yes and no...

I'd say this is a step in the right direction. I didn't hate this film, I found it very enjoyable. But by no means is it as good as his more famous films.

As a horror film it's head and shoulders above anything that's come out or will be coming out in the weeks to come, but that's not saying much when said films are My Soul To Take, The Roommate, or Let Me In.

To be honest, if part 2 of the Night Chronicles is better than the last, we're in for quite a treat...

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