If I were the devil, I’m not convinced that I would take the lift. Rather, I would use my super evil powers of flight to transport myself up thirty floors in a matter of seconds. To the penthouse! Although it would be quite easy to put on weight that way. Call me antisocial, but I’m not big on lifts. There’s something unsettling about being encased in a moving box, with nothing holding it but a few wires that always seem to suffer from some electrical problem, resulting in fire, sparks and the plunging to death. Well, sometimes. In films.
Better the Devil you know?
Plus, you never know who you fellow lift-ers will be. In Devil, the characters in have more to contend with then the prospect of a faulty lift. Beezlebub, Satan, The Dark Angel, call him what you will, is among them. And there is no escape. The lift is stuck on the twentieth floor, the doors won’t open and no one seems to be able to fix it. And the catchy lift music is on loop. OH GOD, MAKE IT STOP!
The tension that is created is great and we really get a sense of the stifling atmosphere of the small space. Granted, it is heavily emphasised by the security guard’s frame, as well as his panting and sweating like an overweight labrador on a summers day. Enough to make anyone claustrophobic. As each character is picked off, the tension builds; who is the devil, you may ask. After all, there is no red guy with horns and a goatee kicking about.
What’s going on? The Devil is here. No way, it’s just like Grandma always said!
Outside the lift, the detective with oodles of metaphorical baggage is attempting to solve a suspected suicide crime. However, he gets roped into solving the “the mystery of the broken-but-not-broken lift”. And as with every troubled cop, he is aided by a chubby sidekick. In this case, it is a South American security guard with a religious upbringing who also provides the voice over, explaining the demonic situation. This was my main point of contention; no, not his weight problem, but the oh-too-easy way in which his grandmother just so happened to tell him the “devil story” which happened to occur IN HIS BUILDING! Coincidence or what? It also brings to mind the whole wise, wizened Grandma-complete-with-plait sitting with her small-and-earnest-grandson around some sort of fire-like device, with a traditional Mexican brew boiling away, as she fiddles with her rosary and stares with great anguish at the crucifix above the mantlepiece, waggling a wonky finger and croaking “heed my warning”. Familiar? Shame on you, M. Night Shyamalan and your winsome use of stereotype!
The lift scenes are what holds it together and puts across the size, space and stuffiness through the use of different perspectives, like from the security desk. Whilst I wouldn’t say that Devil was scary, there are tense build ups, suspense and black outs that bring about badness. Enough to make you gasp. Or scream, if you’re a wetty like the girl who was in front of me.
An enjoyable film, marred only slightly by the cheap, religious explanation. And the creepy good/evil/repent/forgive moralistic message. Whilst you won’t come away having learnt any great lesson (apart from sticking to the stairs) or have any strong feelings about it, it is perfectly acceptable. So if you’ve got nothing else to do, then by all means go see it. After all, the devil makes work for idle hands. And we wouldn’t want that.