“Devil” is a whodunit where audiences know who did it as soon as they see the title. The trouble is in finding out what the culprit looks like – there’s an exchange between Lucifer and one of the other characters about how much masquerading comes with the job, only to get the same old pleas for mercy from the damned.
Satan’s the eclectic type, as evinced by all the deaths the characters here suffer through. You’d think coming up with different ways to kill people would be hard once you’ve trapped them inside an elevator, but you know how sneaky they say the devil is.
The elevator in question is at 333 Locust St., a Philadelphia skyscraper that a guy just killed himself in front of by jumping through a window. Our narrator, a security guard named Ramirez (Jacob Vargas), explains that every time someone commits suicide, it opens the door for the fallen angel to terrorize y’alls neighborhood.
This usually involves killing people and taking their souls, and the morally questionable folks in the elevator are next in line: There’s a mechanic (Logan Marshall-Green) who fought in Afghanistan and knows lots of ways to kill people, an old lady (Jenny O’Hara) who’s got sticky fingers, a brunette (Bojana Novakovic) whose lust for money results in legal woes, a security guard (Bokeem Woodbine) whose violent history slid past human resources and a salesman (Geoffrey Arend) who cares more about mattresses than morals. If it’s difficult for you to sympathize with people like these, don’t worry – whenever the lights flicker out and start working again, one of them turns up dead. As if being in an elevator with a killer weren’t bad enough, Ramirez has a feeling that it’s the devil in disguise.
They get reports over the intercom from Detective Bowen (Chris Messina), but there’s not much he can do other than look on helplessly with the surveillance system. What’s worse is that those in a position to help are superbly stupid, like a security guard (Matt Craven) who attempts to fix a wire that’s right next to a puddle, with predictable results. While you could make the argument that this was the devil’s work, anyone who’s that dumb probably had it coming.
Though “Devil” is director John Erick Dowdle’s fifth film, the poster says it’s “from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan,” which makes it the latest in a string of movies that, hit or miss, never seem to earn the same accolades as “The Sixth Sense.” All the same, “Devil” holds up as cinematic junk food – it’s just too bad Shyamalan couldn’t cook up something better.
This article originally appeared on AllMediaNY.com