Director: John Erick Dowdle (2010)
Starring: Old Woman, Young Woman, Guard, Salesman, Mechanic
Find it online: IMDB
Only half as bad as you expect it to be, yet legitimately terrible enough to be enjoyable on an ironic level or two. Part one of M Night Shyamalan's Night Chronicles, Devil traps five people in a lift and starts offing them one by one. Mix a doomed maintenance worker, two hapless security guards and a recovering alcoholic cop into the mix and you have a movie that's one part Final Destination, one part Saw and a little bit Signs.
Despite the fact he didn't direct, Shyamalan's fingerprints are all over Devil. It's perhaps the most Shyamalanest of his movies to date. Which, I suppose, is why they called it a 'Night Chronicle'. I'm not sure whether this is a spoiler or not, but The Devil is supposedly hiding in an elevator, fucking with his victims and the coppers/security guards/maintenance chappy watching from CCTV. I have no idea why Satan is spending his days playing in a lift, but judging by how Devil goes down, he needs a new hobby. Said victims are a bunch of dodgy looking stereotypes who possibly have names but are only referred to in the credits as Old Woman, Young Woman, Guard, Salesman and Mechanic. Or you can refer to them as I did - Melodramatic Old Lady, Woman In Tank Top, Macho Samuel L. Wannabe, Creepy Gomez Adams Guy and Sullen Tom Hardy Wannabe. They're all pretty annoying, but entertaining enough to watch bicker and die as they do. And die they do a lot. There's not much gore, but the kills are daffy and left-field enough as to amuse or even distract from the inherent ridiculousness of the concept. By the time people are dropping toast on the floor to prove the Devil's presence, you'll either have walked out/switched off or totally get Devil for the (unintentional) joke it is.
An actual plot point in Devil
True to Shyamalan's back catalogue, there's even a twist. Does it really count as a twist when the whole movie is essentially a whodunnit? You're invited to spend the whole runtime trying to guess who The Devil is. This works especially well when the movie is viewed with an audience of idiots. I was seated just in front of one particular genius who alternated between shouting "THE OLD WOMAN'S THE DEVIL!" and "THE CREEPY GUY'S THE DEVIL" and "SHE'S THE DEVIL" and "HE'S THE DEVIL" and then just: "IT'S THE DEVIL!1!"* My guess was on it being the lift itself. Were either of us right? Just see it for yourself. And if you feel cheated by the first twist, another comes in quick succession. Sharp audience members will probably be able to predict the twist(s) and the finale, but it doesn't detract too much. The ultimate twist though, being that Devil is actually not entirely shit. Well, maybe a bit entirely shit, but more enjoyably so than Airbender or the boring one about the mermaid.
Devil is well-directed and snappy enough to at least earn it a cursory viewing. It deserves watching whilst either intoxicated or amongst an audience of imbeciles, but is still only 50% as bad as one might expect. It's disappointingly almost-decent. Bring on the next Night Chronicle.
* An audience member who laughed raucously at the Vampires Suck trailer, screamed at the Paranormal Activity 2 bit and practically pissed himself with laughter at the Jack Black Orange advert. With his yelps of "DEVIL!1!" throughout the movie, I want this motherfucker on the commentary track.