Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan’s career may be a bit comatose lately, but his new thriller, Devil is definitely pumping new life into it after debuting this weekend at #3 with $12.6 million in earnings. The film centers on a police detective, struggling with his own personal demons, trying to save the lives of a seemingly random group of strangers stuck in an elevator with the devil hiding among them.
The film starts with a security guard’s voiceover retelling a story his mother told him as a child. In it, the devil would come to earth to personally take the souls of the damned with him down to Hell after first torturing them a bit. A bizarre upside-down skyline of Philadelphia appears, and after the ominous music and credits roll, we delve right into the story of the detective.
He’s a man fighting to stay sober while still grieving from the hit-and-run deaths of his wife and son. News of a suicide jump from an office building kick off the plot and lead the detective to his post as leader for the trapped strangers in the elevator. As usual Shyamalan appears in the film, but this time he joins the cast as one of the unknowingly damned victims the Devil is hunting…or is he the devil? The movie has the audience questioning just which of the five strangers could be Lucifer himself, but as they’re picked off one by one, his actual identity becomes harder, not easier, to determine.
While Shyamalan’s acting isn’t exactly one of the highlights of the film, the plot is weaved into a fairly cohesive story that really has you weighing the weight of your own sins and questioning your capacity to forgive. Devil manages to do this without getting too preachy, with the exception of the security guard, whose role seems to be that as navigator to salvation for the embattled group stuck in a human sardine can.
Despite its PG-13 rating, Devil manages to scare its audience and get a scream or two out of them. It might also get you to put an extra dollar or two in the collection plate on Sunday.
Devil receives a PAR
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