Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O'Hara, Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, Geoffrey Arend, Jacob Vargas, Matt Craven, Joshua Peace, Caroline Dhavernas, Joe Cobden, Zoie Palmer, Vincent Laresca
Written by: Brian Nelson, based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan
Directed by: John Erick Dowdle
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and disturbing images, thematic material and some language including sexual references
Running Time: 80
Date: 09/16/2010

Devil (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Lifting Your Spirits

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Following his massive hit (The Sixth Sense) with several duds (The Happening, The Last Airbender, etc.), M. Night Shyamalan simply doesn't have the clout he once had. So attaching his name as story writer and producer to this simple horror film adds a certain level of expectation. Added to the fact that it wasn't screened for the press turns it into a ready-made flop. But the fact is that Devil really isn't that bad.

On a typical workday in Philadelphia, five people find themselves trapped on an elevator. As the security and maintenance crew -- and eventually the police -- try to get them out, it begins to come out that the devil is among them, playing them against one another and destroying them, one by one. Each of these five people has a secret that may have brought them together, but even the police detective, a recovering alcoholic with a dark past, may have a specific reason for being there. Can the humans solve the mystery before the devil destroys everyone?

Devil is a low-budget to be sure, but it's streamlined and economic. For a small package, it comes up with some very effective ideas and scares and conjures up some terrific atmospheric moments, ranging from the odd, upside-down opening credits to a scene of a maintenance man chasing his cap across a wind-blown rooftop. It may try to be a little too smarty-pants toward the final third, but it's easy enough to be pulled under its spell by that point. There's far less at stake here than in Shyamalan's last few letdowns, and it mostly works.

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