Starring Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Green and Bokeem Woodbine. Directed by John Erick Dowdle. 80 minutes. 14A
Devil has got to be one of the worst names for a horror film ever. Seriously. Not even The Devil – just Devil. It’s seems like a working title that they forgot to change and it really doesn’t help sell the film, because it just sounds like another one of those satanic-possession films where people have spasms and get all bent out of shape, literally.
But surprisingly, defying titular expectations, there are no priests in Devil. Instead, the film is about five strangers who by demonic forces become trapped in an express elevator, storeys away from a shaft exit. But then things get spooky with flickering lights and an annoying ditty on repeat, while security watches on camera trying to get the elevator going again. The film is prefaced by a story about the devil being able to take on human form to torture then claim victims. So, thus begins the guessing game of who of the five elevator riders is the devil in disguise while one-by-one, they begin to die gruesome deaths.
As if riding an express elevator weren’t unnerving enough for some of us, let alone getting stuck in it, this film takes the terror to a new level, albeit an unrealistic one, if you don’t believe in the devil. The risk of coming off as cheesy seems all too likely – so it’s a surprise when you actually start falling for it. It would have been so much easier to play it all out as a murderer on-board the cart rather than pure evil himself. But I’m grateful for the daring decision.
Devil is not the kind of film where the fear lasts afterward. In other words, it’s not one of the better horror flicks. It’s not the kind where you come home from the theatres at night to your house in darkness and you’re afraid to even inch forward to hit the light switch in fear of what might be lurking in the shadows, which is actually the reason many of us watch horror films in the first place. It’s one thing to be jumpy during a film, but the real fun is when you can’t sleep afterward.
At least Devil is a horror film that doesn’t suck. And sometimes, that’s a whole lot more than you were expecting. B