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 (The Sixth Sense, Signs) will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way to a heart-stopping ending with a truly wicked twist.
Five people trapped in an elevator, and one of them is the Devil
--it's an intriguing launch pad for a movie, and in the hands of producer M. Night Shyamalan, it has all the makings of a first-class supernatural thriller. Unfortunately, Shyamalan's concern is more with the mechanics of the story--how to pull off that celebrated final-act switcheroo--than in presenting flesh-and-blood characters or dialogue that reeks of pulp. There's a moral high-handedness to the proceedings that's also off-putting--there's a reason why these five strangers are trapped in the lift, and why Detective Messina (the very likable Chris Messina from Julie & Julia
) is summoned to rescue them, and why every character is set in motion in Shyamalan's Skinner box of a plot, but it hinges on very well-worn territory, which bites deeply into the story's novel conceit. The cast is uniformly fine--in addition to Messina, there are fine turns by such underrated actors as Bokeem Woodbine, Jenny O'Hara, Geoffrey Arend (in the elevator), and Matt Craven and Caroline Dhavernas (outside)--and the direction by John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine
), who coproduced with brother Drew and Shyamalan, does an impressive job of keeping the action fluid in the confines of the setting. But the central conceit of Devil
is comic book material tarted up as an event picture, which doesn't elicit much hope for the rest of Shyamalan's Night Chronicles
trilogy, of which this is the first entry. --Paul Gaita