Directed by Drew Dowdle, John Erick
Cast: Geoffrey Arend, Bojana Novakovic, Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Green, Chris Messina, Caroline Dhavernas, Jacob Vargas, Matt Craven, Bokeem Woodbine, Jenny O'Hara, Kim Roberts, Joshua Peace
A group of people trapped in a elevator realize that the devil is among them. M. Night Shyamalan (in story writer/producer mode here) has his second shot at career reinvention with a stripped down genre project that finds Quarantine's John Erick Dowdle sharing the director's chair with his Drew for the first time -- maybe their names should be promoted over M. Night's?
What a great concept for an independent movie. This is the type of film I envision being shown on a Website like this one in 2012 and beyond when the advertising world catches up with the real world and you can actually make real money showcasing movies on the Internet. A one or two location concept with spiritual and horror elements, and a "who done it" plot that keeps you hooked throughout because even if you don't like the film, you'll at least watch throughout because you want to know who the killer is.
Then you mix those concepts with a twist in the end which does two key things:
1) It makes you want to see the film again to see if the twist actually works properly.
2) You want to tell other people about it to see if they will figure out the twist.
The last point is key because in order for any movie to succeed financially, you need to have other people who are just fans to do some free advertising for you. The "you have to see this" factor.
But DEVIL really isn't an independent film as it has a major studio behind it plus a major studio advertising budget. Which makes this film even more intriguing. An independent budget and film concept with a studio budget and backing. No actors that are recognizable too which is usually best in the horror genre. The genre and concept is what sells with these movies, not the cast.
So put that all aside because the bottom line is whether a movie is entertaining or not. And in the case of DEVIL, I was pleasantly surprised. I love the concept of six people locked in an elevator because I can relate with this from both sides. The security guard looking into the elevator and being the person stuck.
Back in 2001, I was working locations on a TV show called NERO WOLF that was being filmed in Toronto. They were shooting for 3 days in a swank downtown penthouse hotel suite and my job was to stay in an service elevator all day and night and take up the cast and crew. The star and executive producer of the show was directing the episode so that meant we always went into overtime. The money was good but I was in an elevator for 52 out of 72 hours going up and down, down and up.
On the 2nd day, the elevator just broke down. No wonder because it was getting a lot of use and a whole lot of equipment was being pulled in and out of it. I happened to be taking up the on-set makeup person, which in hindsight was terrific seeing the odds were that I would've been stuck with a middle-aged, never seen a craft truck he didn't like, on-set electrician. We were stuck for over an hour and I actually had a lot of fun because I knew I had a story to tell.
But at the 30 minute mark things got a little creepy as the makeup girl and I just weren't connecting. A lack of trust was formed with each other because of the conflicts of being trapped in a closed in setting, plus we were complete strangers. There was a moment of panic and I was worried that this girl was going to stab me with one of her eyeliner contraptions. People do the craziest things when they are trapped in a closed in space with people they don't know, and there is a hint of doubt whether we will get out of this situation. And the thought of perhaps dying will occur.
Then in late 2002, when I was calming down from an overcompensation of booze and drugs (clean ever since), I was working as a security guard in a downtown Toronto building (literally the same one in DEVIL - as it was shot in Toronto. A substitution for the city of Philadelphia). I was the worst security guard in the long history of this profession as I was really there to calm down and read the many books I set out to read before I started my life over again.
One day, while I was in the middle of surfing the Internet using this newly invented Google search engine, I heard an alarm sound. It took me about 10 minutes to figure out where it was coming from (I was the worst security guard ever!), when I realized there were about 7 people stuck in a broken down elevator. I panicked because I knew I actually had to do some work. I talked with them while I waited for the elevator repairman to come for about 40 minutes via the intercom.
This was the moment when I realized that perhaps being a storyteller was in my future. I told stories to them, joked with them and played games with them that forced everyone to participate. The repairman came, all was good in under an hour and everyone got out safe and secure. But because of my own experience being stuck in an elevator, I knew that if I didn't entertain these people, we were in a lot of trouble. Panic is a dangerous human trait that needs to be stopped at all costs.
So this DEVIL movie. People get stuck, the DEVIL himself is in the elevator and everyone is going to die. There is a logical security guard and a religious one watching them until the detective comes to attempt to figure out this whole thing. Who is the DEVIL? It's one of them, but who is it.