THE DEVIL – Review
Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on November 6, 2010 | No Comments
FILM – THE DEVIL
PRODUCER – MANOJ NIGHT SHYAMALAN
DIRECTOR – JOHN ERICK DOWDLE
WRITER – MANOJ NIGHT SHYAMALAN
CAST – Chris Messina, Jenny O’Hara, Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, Geoffrey Arend
MUSIC – Fernando Velázquez
The supernatural forces are back again in Manoj Night Shyamalan’s world and with a spiritual twist, this time round too. The Devil is on rampage in Philadelphia and he is out to teach some serious lessons. Five people, who have shown themselves capable of evil are trapped inside the elevator with one of them being the Devil incarnate. One by one he metes out punishment by death to the unsuspecting sinners even as those trying to rescue them fall prey to his machinations. Among those trying to rescue them is also Detective Bowden, an important link to those trapped inside.
Undecidedly Christian in context, the film begins with quoting the psalms and keeps up the moral lesson throughout. It directly brings into conflict the Christian concepts of good and evil and God and the Devil. It starts with and is strung together with a grandmother’s tale recited by one of the security personnel who actually notices the devil’s face in the lighting fluctuations on the monitor. No one believes him initially until things start getting out of control. The Devil’s moves can be predicted step by step but only fatally so. Until, the famed Shyamalan ‘twist’ of course.
The film is tightly knit in the physical and emotional tension it wraps its principal characters in. The drama builds slowly with the pall of evil overcast on the city and humanity slowly unveiling itself. The plot is centred around the people in the lift and the dynamics within, while giving (and finding) reason for plot development and character placement in the fable at every point.
The film is more of a psychological and moral horror experience. It makes a strong case for the Devil as an external influence but sweeps aside a million questions it throws up in this exploration. The questions involving the juxtaposition of God and Devil, good vs bad and punishment vs redemption are strictly from a handed-down Christian point of view, the makers investing nothing new, original or even a debate to speak of. The concept of the blood-thirsty Devil is almost like the concept of the vengeful Catholic God punishing sinners. The tightly narrated drama directed by John Erick Dowdle almost undoes itself when the last character brings about the ‘twist’ making for an unexpected climax. But this twist also confuses the God and Devil’s roles in the Christianity. So then who is God and who the Devil? And where?
The film is no intellectual debate. It is an psycho-emotional Christian drama meant for a strictly American audience (with its sins being highly culturally specific, hit-n-run, multiple marriages and divorces for money and so on) with its adequate share of chills and thrills. If you are looking for more beyond that, there isn’t much.