I recently wrote a blog post in response to the question Are Horror Fans Too Biased Towards Directors? Well, it certainly seems that M. Night Shyalaman can turn a horror fan off a film quicker than most. So, it seemed like a strange decision to plaster his name over the trailers and posters for ‘Devil’. Rumours were that fans booed and mocked when his name popped up in the teaser at cinemas stateside.
This time, however, Shyalaman is not directing, nor is he writing. He is producing an idea “from the mind of M. Night Shyalaman” according to the trailer and the result is pretty damn good.
In actuality ‘Devil’ is written by Brain Nelson, who also wrote 30 Days of Night and the excellent Hard Candy, and directed by John Erick Dowdle who directed Quarantine, the remake/rip off of Spanish film Rec. What we get is something fresh, something different.
Shyalaman’s idea, that has become the premise of the film, is genius in its simplicity. Five people are trapped in a lift, one of them maybe the Devil himself.
In fact, it’s the simplicity of the film that makes it enjoyable through out. Over the past few years the US market has been saturated with torture porn or bad CGI but ‘Devil’ moves away from such cheap tricks and returns to the most powerful weapon in a film’s arsenal, its audience.
So dependant on the mind of the viewer is ‘Devil’ that, some of the film’s most tense moments come when there is nothing happening on screen at all. Each killing that takes place inside the elevator is done as the power fails, that means no lights and no CCTV. However, when there is no picture, there is still sound. Heavy breathing, scrabbling fingers, breaking glass, each sound sets you on edge, your hair on end and your imagination into overdrive.
The film is smooth and clever enough for you to leave the cinema happy with what you saw. You will keep guessing until the reveal as to whom is Satan and at some point you will believe it could be any of them. I certainly didn't see the twist coming until about 10 seconds before it did.
All in all the film is good. I would certainly recommend that people see it. It's not a classic of the genre but its certainly enjoyable and proves that M. Night Shyalaman is an excellent concept man even if he doesn't always have the skills to pull it off as a director.