A long time ago my boy Mark came down to St. Louis to hang out for Spring Break. That same spring the movie ‘Angel Heart’ was released, I know I’m time-stamping myself here, but this guy was bugging me and bugging me to see it. The main reason was because it had Lisa Bonet in it, and being a freak for all things Lisa Bonet at the time for whatever reason, and hearing she might flash a boob in it, we eventually went to see it. What he didn’t know was that ‘Angel Heart’ was a Devil Movie. I knew it was a Devil Movie, and I also knew that Devil Movies mess this guy up real bad, but I kept my mouth shut so he could see Lisa Bonet’s boobs. ‘Angel Heart’ messed him up real bad. I mean he woke up screaming in the middle of the night like a little sissy. Something I remind him of constantly to this very day. I wish the producers behind this movie ‘Devil’ had called it something else because I would’ve tried to have tricked him into seeing this as well. ‘Devil’ would mess him up real bad.
Apparently, according to the grandma of the security guard Ramirez (Jacob Vargas) who will narrate for us, after somebody kills themselves, the Devil will show up for no reason, looking like one of us, in particular to find some rotten living souls to torture the heck out of before taking them to their final destination. Satan… I tell you. As if on cue, someone at this sky rise apartment / business complex has launched themselves out a window. Investigating this case is damaged cop and recovering alcoholic Detective Bowden (Chris Messina) who is still dealing with the loss of his wife and son in a traffic accident five years prior.
While Bowden is checking out his situation outside this building, inside this building five people have filed into an elevator. There’s the skittish old lady (Jenny O’Hara), the burnout (Logan-Marshall-Green), the black dude (Bokeem Woodbine), Mister Funnyman (Geoffrey Arend) and the Gold Digger (Bojana Novakovic). Just five people minding their own business trying to catch the elevator upstairs.
Then the elevator stops in the middle of the floor. These things happen, right? Almost immediately the people in this elevator start freaking out. The black dude is a claustrophobe, the old lady is an irritant, Mr. Funnyman refuses to shut up… and on it
goes. The lights flicker a couple of times, electrical problems I guess, and the afore mentioned Guard Ramirez, who is monitoring this situation with his partner Guard Lustig (Matt Craven), swears he saw an evil face on the monitor during one of those blackouts. Crazy. He rewinds the tape and sure enough, it’s an evil face, but Lustig assures him that it’s nothing but interference. Whatever Lustig, Me and Ramirez know an evil face when we see one.
Since getting these guys out is taking so long, the guards place a call to the police, and since Detective Bowden is there already, he responds. He gets there just in time to see the freaky stuff start happening. Lights flicker off, somebody gets bitten. Lights flicker off, somebody gets their carotid cut with a big shard of glass. Lights flicker off, somebody is lying face up, but their head is looking face down. That’s not the way the neck is supposed to work. It’s obvious that somebody in this locked elevator is killing these people, Ramirez claims its Satan, but nobody listens to him as Detective Bowden is racing to find out who it is. Plus anybody who gets too close to helping free these people gets killed for their trouble because… you know… he’s Satan and he’s a dick. The mystery remains, one of these people is Satan but which one is it? And can they be saved?
It is said that Satan’s greatest deception is making the world believe that he doesn’t exist, and there’s a number of reasons for that, but primarily if you don’t believe in him then you don’t believe in anything which makes you ripe for his plans for you. Thus, if you believe this notion, then I’m guessing Satan wouldn’t be causing a ruckus on closed circuit television for everyone to see. But it’s just a movie. Also, what’s up with Guard Ramirez’s Granny? Hey Grandma, why don’t you chill on the bedtime stories about suicides that lead to Satan walking the Earth and brutally torturing people to death. Try a little ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ next time or ‘Hush Little Baby’. Just throwing that out there Grandma, because you grandson is real messed up now, and it’s mostly your fault.
That little bit of nonsense out of the way, John Erick Dawdle’s ‘Devil’, which is part devil movie and part Agatha Christie styled mystery, is very effective as a devil movie because it plays very efficiently with a set of beliefs that almost everybody on the planet earth believes in at least a little bit. You might not believe in Satan or God, but you know full well that evil exists, and ‘Devil’ simply gives evil a shape and a form. I wouldn’t say that this is scary movie, but it is a very creepy movie, and it’s a creepiness that stays with you a bit well after the movie is over.
The mystery of who our little satanic troublemaker was amongst the tortured souls was handled very well, the action sequences outside of the elevator, spearheaded by Detective Bowden’s frantic search to help those locked into the elevator, also blended together very well, M. Night Shyamalan can still tell a story with the best of them and the performances in this film were solid all the way around.
Apparently if you need a claustrophobic, creepy, horror style movie brought home in an effective fashion, based on Mr. Dowdle’s previous movie ‘Quarantine’, John Erick Dowdle is your go to guy, and his handling of ‘Devil’ makes this proof positive. I just wish there was a way I could trick my friend into seeing it, just hear him wake up screaming like a sissy again. I know it sounds kind of mean, but it’s actually really funny to witness.