Sunday, September 19, 2010

What the 'Devil'?

There's no doubt that M. Night Shyamalan's recent "scare" (The Last Airbender) is probably his most frightening film to date; however, Devil is proof enough that Shyamalan still has what it takes scare and entertain audiences with an original story.

Set in a Philidelphia office building, Devil traps five complete strangers in an elevator with nothing but their past choices and misfortunes bonding them. Of course this wouldn't be a horror film if nothing horrific happened, so if being stuck in an elevator with four strangers isn't scary enough, one of them just happens to be, you guessed it, the devil.

Devil is the brainchild of M. Night Shyamalan, but for those of you fearful of this fact, don't worry, Shyamalan is only the money behind it; there will be no writing or directing for him on this one, although fans familiar with Shyamalan's work will recognize the atmosphere that director John Erick Dowdle brings to this film.

Dowdle is no newbie to these kinds of movies, having written and directed the very scary, very intense Quarentine, which is probably why M. Night Shyamalan trusted him with this movie. Dowdle does a fine job with the camerawork here, starting with very interesting angles right from the get go and he keeps it up throughout the film. This makes everything about this film more interesting to watch and it is difficult to find time to take your eyes off the screen.

Brian Nelson is also familiar with this genre, having written the screenplay for the vampire thriller 30 Days of Night. The script in this film makes everything feel more realistic: from the witty banter to the ways the characters develope and interact with each other. One of the most difficult things to capture in a horror film is real human essence and making the characters themselves feel real, seeing is how the actual story in most horror flicks can be a little drastic, but this film has a great script with believable characters that react in very reasonable ways.

Simplicity is the key to success for this film. It takes a talented filmmaker to take five actors, place them in a small elevator set, turn the lights on and off and turn that into legit fear. This film is very Hitchcockesque in the way that it creates fear out of, essentially, nothing; you don't see most of what's going on and Dowdle understands the concept that it is what we don't see that scares us the most.

Devil may just be Shyamalan's most entertaining idea since Signs. It gets props for its intruiging camerawork, believable script, and extraoplating more fear than there probably should be.

Definitely see this film.

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