Horror review: Devil

devil

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, SEPT. 20, 2010

In the recent supernatural thriller, The Last Exorcism, a character states, “If you believe in god, you have to believe in the devil.” In the new supernatural thriller, Devil, a character states, “If you believe in the devil, you have to believe in god.”

Either way, somebody’s going to hell.

After a rosary-clutching man plummets from the 35th floor of a Philadelphia office tower, faithless Detective Bowden (Chris Messina) is sent to investigate the apparent suicide. While he’s on the scene, another call comes in about a woman who’s apparently been stabbed in the back while stuck in one of the same building’s elevators with four other strangers. The address is 333 Locust Avenue.

Sounds halfway Satanic to me.

Operating from the tower’s security control room, Bowden efficiently oversees the tracking down of the trapped passengers’ identities and criminal backgrounds, but all efforts to rescue them fail. The only aid security can provide is shutting off the piped-in music to offer a respite from the sucky strains of “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”.

Bowden observes the action in the elevator via closed-circuit TV, but all bets are off when the lights die just long enough for another passenger to do the same. When the screen goes blank, the sounds of hellish mayhem do get your imagination going.

The relatively unknown cast delivers solid performances all round, and director John Erick Dowdle—who honed his ability to shoot on a low budget in a confined space on the less effective Quarantine—keeps things interesting and well paced.

Since the story stems from the mind of the much-maligned M. Night Shyamalan there’s a twist, of course, but without his heavyhanded presence behind the lens, we’re spared the ponderous ordeal of getting to it.

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