Have you ever had a great idea, said it out loud, and realized it was actually pretty stupid?
The next time M. Night Shyamalan gets the green light to write a movie, he should say the concept out loud before wasting our time again.
The plot of “Devil” is about as nuanced as lacing Velcro shoes. Five strangers enter an elevator, strange things start to happen, scary music plays and one of them might be the Devil. It is just that straightforward. Feel free to use the bathroom, because they do not leave that elevator for almost the entire movie.
That is not to say simplicity is always a bad thing for a thriller film. The central notion of “The Ring” is fairly basic, for instance. For “Devil” to be interesting, the characters needed to compensate with innovative dialogue and enticing background information.
However, none of the five strangers are that interesting. They all follow a similar model: each character has a seemingly regular job, but with a shady history. For example, Ben, played by Bokeem Woodbine, is a temp security guard with a violent history. Because of their wicked pasts, the Devil decides to mess with them. The most depth comes from the narration of Ramirez, played by Jacob Vargas, but even that is only “meh.”
Perhaps my biggest beef with this movie is its name, “Devil,” the major twist of the film. The entire movie becomes a waiting game for the Devil to appear, which was the only remotely interesting thing in the film.
“Devil” is regarded as a commercial success, but the further damage to Shyamalan’s reputation outweighs the money made here. The movie only cost $10 million and has raked in double since opening, but the fact remains that Shyamalan’s movies have gone from disappointing to embarrassing ever since “Signs.” These days, if I see that Shyamalan influenced a movie in any way, I try to just stay home that weekend to be safe.
But it’s not all negative. Even though “Devil” was awful, it was at least short with a running time of thankfully just 80 minutes and a brisk pace.
To top it all off, “Devil” doesn’t even wrap up well. It’s just a huge waste of your time and money that you should avoid at all costs.