‘Devil’: The Reviews Are In!

Critics praise M. Night Shyamalan-produced flick as 'a terrific little horror thriller.'

Don’t you dare say elevators are dull. You might fall asleep standing up while riding to your appointed destination, but Hollywood has something of a love affair with that utilitarian contraption. Christopher Nolan blew our minds this summer with his elevator scene in “Inception.” Stanley Kubrick unleashed a terrifying river of blood from behind those sliding doors in “The Shining.” And James Cameron has worked elevator action into “Aliens,” “Terminator 2″ and “True Lies.”

The latest to join these rather elevated cinematic ranks is M. Night Shyamalan. He’s the brains behind [movie id="412993"]“Devil,”[/movie] a new horror flick with a simple premise: What if you were unlucky enough to ride along with Satan? Shyamalan recruited Brian Nelson (“30 Days of Night”) to pen the script and John Erick Dowdle (“Quarantine”) to direct. The movie arrived in theaters Friday (September 17). Here’s what the critics are saying:

The Story
“While the mostly unknown actors have their shaky moments, there’s a silver lining; unlike in many horror movies these days, it’s unlikely you’ll guess the order in which characters die. Five people are stuck in a malfunctioning elevator. All of them are suspicious types with shady histories. And thanks to some largely unnecessary voice-over, we’ve been given the heads-up that the Devil occasionally likes to round up a few sinners into a place of no escape, and torment them to death as the world watches and becomes more cynical as a result. In effect, this means that every few minutes, the lights in the elevator go out, scary noises are heard, and when they come back up, something horrible has happened and the surviving captives go even more nuts. Meanwhile, the cops outside try to figure out possible motives for whatever it is that’s going on, while trying to break in and free the lift-bound. ” — Luke Y. Thompson, E! Online

The Lowdown on M. Night
“Perhaps if M. Night Shyamalan is planning to work as a producer (and not a writer/director) for a few more years, I’d say that ‘Devil’ is most definitely a welcome step in the right direction. He’s the one who hatched the simple-yet-nifty concept, he’s the one who hired Nelson and Dowdle, and he’s the one who keeps making my beloved Philadelphia look so damn pretty on film — so clearly the man still has some skills for scary storytelling. Frankly I think M. Night still has too much talent to stay ‘disappointing’ forever, and if slight-yet-entertaining matinee-style horror flicks like ‘Devil’ are what he’s focused on, I think that’s good news for everyone.” — Scott Weinberg, FEARnet

The Dissenters
“Cinematically, ‘Devil’ has no particular style other than to tell the story in the most direct way possible. Even the sequences where the lights flicker and evil has its way with the elevator people (as seen in the trailers) are unoriginal, flat in tone and far from shocking. So what does ‘Devil’ have to offer the horror community at large? Not a whole hell of a lot. The bloodshed is light, the deaths mundane and the supernatural aspects kept to an extreme minimum. Maybe the title Lil’ Devil would have been more accurate since that’s the amount you are going to get.” — Nomad, Dread Central

The Reveal
“If you’ve watched enough films like this, you may also guess which one the ‘Devil’ is 2 minutes in, and though the film made a great effort to throw the audience, I was a little disappointed to find out I had been right. However, the climax is frightening, almost living up to the promise of all that’s happened before, and the way the ending is handled feels rewarding and satisfying. After the immaculately wrung tension of the last 80 minutes, I felt like I’d seen an excellent film. Yes there were moments that could’ve been scarier or more tensely handled, but that’s nitpicking. In its own right it’s a terrific little horror thriller. Surprisingly gore-light, it chooses to scare you with atmosphere and tension instead, and it does a tremendous job at it.” — Ben Greene, MovieWeb

The Final Word
“For all its preaching about guilt, redemption, punishment and salvation, ‘Devil’ delivers its chills in a compact, efficient package of extreme close-ups, decently-timed surprises and the terror of dread-anticipation. It’s not great, but it’s not bad, and the fellow who foisted ‘The Happening,’ ‘Lady in the Water’ and ‘The Last Airbender’ on the faithful would take that praise any day. No doubt the mind of M. Night is troubled that he didn’t get a directing credit (John Erick Dowdle of the taut and tense ‘Quarantine’ did) for a movie that at least doesn’t further devalue his brand.” — Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel

Check out everything we’ve got on “Devil.”

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