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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
John Erick Dowdle
Cast:
Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O'Hara, Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, Geoffrey Arend, Jacob Vargas
Writing Credits:
Brian Nelson, M. Night Shyamalan (story)

Tagline:
Bad Things Happen For A Reason.

Synopsis:
Trapped in an elevator high above Philadelphia, five people discover that the Devil is among them – and no one can escape their fate. This chilling, supernatural thriller from M. Night Shyamalan will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way to a heart-stopping ending with a truly wicked twist.

Box Office:
Budget
$10 million.
Opening Weekend
$12.289 million on 2809 screens.
Domestic Gross
$33.583 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 81 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 12/21/2010

Bonus:
• Three Deleted Scenes
• “The Story” Featurette
• “The Devil’s Meeting” Featurette
• “The Night Chronicles” Featurette


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Devil [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 5, 2011)

Anyone else remember when movie audiences regarded the attachment of the name “M. Night Shyamalan” as a good thing? It becomes more and more difficult to recall that scenario with every passing year – and every passing Shyamalan stinker.

Indeed, at this point, the Shyamalan name has become more of a curse than a blessing. When I saw the trailer for 2010’s Devil, I thought it looked intriguing. Then “from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan” appeared onscreen, and my interest level dropped precipitously. Though Shyamalan’s involvement was meant to lure us to the multiplex, it appeared to have the opposite effect; we’ll never know if Devil would’ve done better financially without Shyamalan’s name attached, but I do imagine it dissuaded more than a few potential patrons.

Devil provides a simple story. Five strangers (Bokeem Woodbine, Jenny O’Hara, Logan Marshall-Green, Bojana Novakovic and Geoffrey Arend) get into a tall building’s elevator headed up. Around the 21st floor, the elevator suddenly halts and they become trapped inside of it.

While they await rescue, strange incidents develop. One passenger gets bitten out of nowhere, and then others start to die. The culprit? Possibly the devil, as it appears that one of the residents may be Lucifer in human form.

When you look over Shyamalan’s last few films, you’ll see a series of missed opportunities. His flicks boast the potential to be interesting, but Shyamalan finds himself unable to develop them in a satisfying manner. Devil is certainly better than anything Shyamalan’s made since 2002’s Signs, but some missteps keep it from greatness.

My biggest complaint comes from the manner in which the film tells its story. We last saw director John Erick Dowdle at the helm of 2008’s Quarantine, a horror flick with a Cloverfield-style “found footage” motif. I expected Devil to follow a similar path, but it doesn’t; rather than shoot for the fake realism of Quarantine, it comes across as more conventional.

That doesn’t bother me – fake documentary material gets old easily – but I think Devil could’ve found a way to become more effective. In particular, I feel it would’ve been most interesting if it virtually never left the elevator. I’m not saying it should’ve been shot with one camera and approached in the “found footage” vein, but the film spends much of its time with cops and others who attempt to rescue the trapped passengers. Though that side helps develop the narrative, it almost entirely eliminates the claustrophobic tension that would result from a tighter focus.

Perhaps it may sound unrealistic to show all the action from the passengers’ point of view, but I don’t think so. There’d be more than enough for them to do as they interact and grow more suspicious of each other, and we could still hear from the outside world via various technological methods. A Devil that never left the elevator would be a more intense kind of Agatha Christie murder mystery, albeit one with a supernatural twist.

I also think Dowdle relies on too many horror conventions. The movie quickly lets us know that it wants to follow a scary movie vibe, so we get loud, abrupt effects and creepy music. These aren’t overdone to a tremendous degree, but I do wish the film had followed a more low-key dynamic that let the horror evolve naturally. (I could also live without the cheesy narration that telegraphs the tale.)

While I can pick on a variety of flaws, I think Devil works as greater than the sum of its parts. Sure, I can say what might’ve made it work better, but the flick still packs a good punch. Even with all the departures from the elevator, it maintains a creepy vibe and it leaves us guessing.

This does mean a standard Shyamalan-style twist, though it’s not one of his usual “you gotta be kidding me!” variety. Under normal circumstances, the late-in-the-film change-up could be seen as cheap, but the supernatural side of the movie allows it to avoid such traps. While I could still see it as a stretch, the story creates room for it and makes it hard to criticize it too severely.

In truth, I find it hard to find too much about Devil to praise, as the various parts never seem especially impressive. Nonetheless, I like the film as a whole. The movie comes with an intriguing premise and develops it in a spooky, powerful manner. Though it never flirts with greatness, it provides an enjoyable piece.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B+/ Bonus D+

Devil appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a decent but unexceptional transfer.

Sharpness seemed acceptable but not with any particular sparkle. Most of the movie exhibited reasonably positive delineation, but the film was occasionally a tad soft. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes or print defects.

With a chilling setting, I didn’t expect vivid hues from Devil, and the palette adopted the anticipated low-key presence. The movie usually went with a cold bluish tint, so the tones were affected by that. Within those parameters, the colors seemed fine; they weren’t impressive, but they appeared perfectly adequate. Blacks were a little mushy, and shadows tended to be on the dense side. Some of this stemmed from production design, but I still thought low-light scenes were inkier than I’d like. Overall, this was a watchable presentation; it just didn’t impress.

At least the active DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Devil boasted more pizzazz. Though the movie lacked a lot of big auditory moments, it compensated with a lot of ambient material. “Ambient” doesn’t really describe the information, though, as it implies general atmosphere. The track instead went with louder scare-oriented elements; yeah, these still could be deemed environmental, but they brought out good impact. The various components cropped up across all five channels and meshed together to create a solid, involving soundscape.

Audio quality was positive. Speech was consistently natural and distinctive, without edginess or other concerns. Music seemed vivid and bold, and effects were strong; those elements presented nice depth and accuracy. Though nothing here dazzled, the soundtrack suited the film.

We get a handful of extras here. We launch with three featurettes. The Story goes for two minutes, 32 seconds and offers notes from director John Erick Dowdle, producer/story writer M. Night Shyamalan, screenwriter Brian Nelson and actor Jacob Vargas. They offer some minor comments about the movie’s plot and themes. This is nothing more than a glorified trailer; it provides virtually no useful information.

The Devil’s Meeting goes for two minutes, 26 seconds and features Dowdle, Shyamalan, UCLA Folklore and Mythology Professor Ysamur Flores, and executive producer Drew Dowdle. They talk a little about the mythology that influences the movie’s story. This one has 20 seconds or so of moderately interesting content, but like the prior program, it exists for promotional purposes and doesn’t offer much else.

Finally, The Night Chronicles lasts two minutes, 15 seconds and provides statements from John Erick Dowdle, Shyamalan, Drew Dowdle, Nelson, and co-producers Ashwin Rajan and John Rusk. They talk about Shyamalan’s new series of produced films. Like its predecessors, this one lacks much info, and it seems self-congratulatory, as Shyamalan and the others talk about how great the franchise will be. You can safely skip all three featurettes and miss nothing.

Three Deleted Scenes fill a total of three minutes, 56 seconds. These include “Salesman Intro” (1:07), “Old Woman Intro” (1:17) and “Mechanic Intro” (1:32). Each of these tells us a little more about the characters mentioned. I like the snippets but I’m glad they didn’t make the final cut; I already think we see too much of the world outside of the elevator, so additional details about the various personalities would’ve hurt the movie. The inclusion of these clips does make me wonder why we don’t find similar prologues for the other two elevator passengers.

Despite a mix of missteps, Devil presents a pretty compelling horror experience. The movie manages to develop an unusual premise and boasts just enough freshness and creepiness to keep us with it. The Blu-ray offers reasonably good visuals and very nice audio but disappoints in terms of supplements. I’d definitely recommend this one as a rental.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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