Bad Things Happen For A Reason
Even though the trailer owned me and the dead body in my closet, I was weary of DEVIL; and no its not because M. Night Shyamalan’s
name (who sadly lost me after SIGNS… but I still have hope) is on it; the dude solely produced it and came up with the initial premise (its also the first film under his The Night Chronicles banner). It takes more than that to urinate on a picture. I was more concerned cause September is usually known as dumping month in Hollywood, a time when La La Land often gets rid of the projects it doesn’t have much faith in (same thing for January BTW; dump before the crop of
new films are unleashed). So I went in with my jockstrap on and my guards up and low and behold; I had a fun, creepy time with it. Didn’t see that coming to be honest. Yes, I was expecting the worst.
The moment the opening sweeping upside down aerial shot (the film is about the Devil... get it) of downtown Philly unravelled I was wowed and hoped that this was a stern sign of me being in for something special and thankfully I was right. Written by Brian Nelson (co writer of 30 Days of Night) and directed by John Erick Dowdle (REC remake Quarantine) DEVIL proved the old saying true; “if she doesn’t swallow; you don’t marry”…wait a minute that’s the wrong saying…I mean this one; “sometimes less is more” and DEVIL went by that philosophy for the most part and proved it right. Here’s my best Pacino impression: “What do we got?” A group of dodgy folks trapped in a buggy elevator and a cop on the outside trying to get their sorry asses out. That was the stage and Dowdle played off it beautifully. The man kept me in the game by delivering an effortless pace, gradually peeling away the walls as to whom the peeps in the elevator were, slyly playing the whodunit game (somewhat of an unfair one since there was no way to know who the culprit was; I still had fun playing it though and actually guessed right) and via delivering low key yet chilling scares. And yes, Fernando Velázquez powerful score backed up the proceedings with flair as well. Never heard of the dude, but am keeping tabs now. His ditties often elevated the flick to F*CK YEAH echelon.
And I gotta say it; the whole lights go off in the elevator then something f*cked happens device worked on me like the hilarious hate mail I often get in the morning. Every time that went down, I’d be dreading what would come next; again; a simple yet MUCHO efficient ploy that kicked my ass to fear flick heaven. Yup 95% of the time subtlety was this one’s M.O and I esteemed that; not only did it work for the film's benefit but it also echoed the more classic genre jamborees of old; the ones that didn’t need to splatter the screen with plasma to make an impression. Although I’m a gorehound at heart, I do jack off all over the more tension driven genre offerings as well; and DEVIL was just that. Thank you. Acting wise; Bokeem Woodbine aside (whose work I’ve always loved, here was no exception) I didn’t know any of the actors in this Zoo, which played in the movie's favor. Not going the star way was a smart jab; it helped me believe in these people more and definitely jacked up the potency of the guessing game. Although everybody nailed their roles with talent and class; Logan Marshall-Green really took me aback with his intense and focused show. The dude had a sense of stillness that made him mesmerizing on the screen. I hope he goes places; the mofo deserves it. He has star written all over him.
And was it me or was Geoffrey Arend (as the annoying salesman) a dead ringer for Shyamalan himself? I couldn’t get that out of my melon while watching this fucko; an under the table cameo? Maybe. Who cares? Nobody but me. Now when I wasn’t hooked by the hellish madness bumping in the elevator; it was the cop on the case subplot grabbing me by the balls and making me cry out “uncle”. The investigation thang kept serving up more answers; therefore a clearer sense as to the big picture and it surely helped that Chris Messina as the 5.0 in charge put out an appealing performance. His character was layered (loved the grief he carried with him) and likable... all ya need from a hero yo! Finally, I was raised Catholic, my faith one way or another is my freaking business, but with that spat, I’ve always had a fascination with theology, God and the Devil. This movie was smart enough to use the POSITIVE values that rest behind the Catholic religion and to put them out there to create some thought provoking moments (Jacob Vargas, a stand out actor BTW, was the main catalyst for those). Think a morality tale based in religion but that would also fly high in any psychology class. I came out of the theatre with my date (who chewed the seat in anticipation the whole way, she lost it in there) debating just that. Any movie that has me yapping psych driven by religion drivel whilst I’m strolling out gets a Bowling trophy and a pat on the ass from yours truly.
Any negatives to spew? Not many to be honest. I could’ve gone without the whole narration for dummies the movie put out. I didn’t need the happenings explained to me; the film was doing a bang on job of doing that all by its lonesome. It's frustrating when a flicks treat its audience like duh morons. I also was half and half on the cat being fully out of the bag move at the end and how the film went about it; I would have kept IT under wraps and continued with the suggestive streak this one was on… but hey… that’s just me and last I checked, I’m an asshole. When all was said and raped while I was walking home, digesting DEVIL, all I kept thinking was; “shit I don’t really have many complaints about this one”… now that’s rare for me! DEVIL was the real deal and I hope yall enjoy it as much as I did. Now SHOUT AT THE DEVIL! Cue in heavy metal guitar riff!