Alright, another movie off my list! I seem to be seeing more and reviewing less, so I'm pleased to actually see a movie I wanted to see before. And it's a recent one, too!
A detective is called in to investigate a mysterious suicide in an office building. Five people are trapped in an elevator in the same building. Every time the lights go out, one of them is killed. Soon, it all becomes a race against time to rescue as many people as possible, with seemingly unrelated but bizarre occurrences happening right and left.
The building's Security tries to keep things under control.
Throughout the movie I was reminded of several pieces such as Saw II or Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, which are quite similar in regards of suspense. I won't give anything away but the suspense is the strongest point, which is exactly why I kept watching. I watched it with a friend and we were both on the edge of our seats, which is unusual because we usually comment on the movie and "share" the experience; here, it felt as if we were "alone" with the movie. It felt almost personal.
Another thing I liked were the mini-twists: we are led to believe a certain character is responsible for the murders, only to be completely thrown off by a revelation a few moments later. It's fun because it keeps you guessing and making assumptions. And when my assumptions turn out to be wrong, it's usually a sign of a good twist.
The trapped people become more and more nervous.
A few words on cinematography and soundtrack. The opening shots are of an upside-down Philadelphia; a lightning storm is seen approaching in the distance. Throughout the movie, we see the storm get closer and closer, until it finally hits the city and the events intensify. In the ending, the same city is filmed normally. I'll skip this since the symbolism is fairly clear and I don't want to spoil anything. The soundtrack is solemn and intimidating, fit for this type of movie; I often stopped to think about it and came to the conclusion that it was "really awesome" (quoted for truth). You can watch the trailer to see how the flyover shots and soundtrack are.
I for one would have liked a more ambiguous ending. This one wraps everything up neatly in a bow and doesn't leave much to the imagination. However, I'd say it was satisfactory in terms of what happened to the characters.
Things also got slightly predictable at times, but these moments can be easily overlooked and do not detract from the viewing experience.
The Plain WTF - a few mild spoilers
Alright, there were a few moments that seemed out of place in the context of this movie. One of the reasons I continued watching was the realism: most of the things that happened were believable - they could happen in real life too. However, the 2-3 shots that flash when the lights go on and off show a gremlin-type creature reflected in the elevator's mirror, which kind of detracts from the big picture. If these shots weren't included, I believe the movie would be scarier, as the ending more than makes up for the devil part.
Nervousness soon turns into panic.
Ramirez: Everybody believes in him a little bit, even guys like you who pretend they don't.
Detective Bowden: [Detective Bowden takes out a small folded piece of paper and throws it to Ramirez that reads "Im so sorry">
Ramirez: Whats this?
Detective Bowden: An apology note left at the site of a hit and run. My wife and son were killed out on Bethlaham Pike five years ago but, that's ok, because whoever did it is *sorry*. You can tell by the heartfelt apology on the back of a carwash coupon.
Detective Bowden: So no, I don't believe in the Devil. You don't need him, people are bad enough by themselves.
Everyone is puzzled by what is going on.
Verdict and recommendations
All in all, I was surprised by this. If you've read any of my other reviews, you know that I've learned not to have exceedingly high expectation when viewing a movie - this saved me from being disappointed quite a few times. I'm not saying this movie isn't worth seeing, but I wouldn't describe it as extraordinarily intelligent. The writers are playing on the suspense and the rest of the elements look OK too, but this isn't an earth-shattering piece. It's good for an evening viewing, preferably with the lights turned off, to fully enjoy it.
You can watch it with someone, but watching it alone is a much scarier experience. And this is, ultimately, a horror movie.
My rating: (8 out of 10)
Devil (2010) on IMDb.com