Devil (15, 80 mins)
Director: John Erick Dowdle
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
The basic conceit is that five people are trapped in a lift and one of them is the devil, but it begins with a suicide that’s being investigated by Chris Messina’s grieving cop. The lift in question is inside the building where his jumper fell from, and it’s stuck 20 floors up with no way of getting to it. Inside the five strangers are becoming increasingly anxious, and one of them is about to become increasingly violent.
With its darkening skies over a foreboding looking Philadelphia, Dowdle certainly manages to conjure a gloomy and portentous atmosphere. But inside the lift there’s not a great deal of fright-making going on. Anything significant tends to happen when the lights are off, so any sense of terror is hard to sustain and it just seems so much like a Twilight Zone episode stretched to feature length, with a lot of extraneous detail brought in to pad the running time.
But there are some decent moments of suspense, a lot of daftness and contrivance and, in true Shyamalan style, a passable twist as well as some rather pat themes of forgiveness and redemption teased out come the resolution. Still, there’s more to like here than in Shyamalan’s last three films put together, so here’s hoping The Night Chronicles can improve further with Twelve Strangers.