Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Devil Made Me Do It

“Devil” is a film based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan and it was directed by Brian Nelson.  See:  It is very au courant to be critical of MHS’s movies.  When someone is at the pinnacle on their first film (“The Sixth Sense”), it likely will only be downhill from there, but “Devil” is not so bad. 

There were some shocking parts, thanks to good editing, dark lighting, and the sense of being trapped in an elevator.  Those scares alone were worth the admission because there are so few scares in movies today.  Lots of blood and guts yes- but scares- no.  The photography was very good and the amount of dark green post-production lighting was kept to a minimum.  In fact, the elevator scenes were filmed in normal light and color.  Only when it was necessary for scare did the lights dim.  The extra-elevator scenes did sometimes have that green tint that directors recently seem to equate with “Be afraid, dammit.”  I particularly like Logan Marshall-Green, who is one of the main characters of the film.  He is in the cast of TVs “Dark Blue” and is credible in it also.  The title sequence was wonderful.  It was a helicopter fly-by of the Philadelphia skyline only inverted.  It was effective in setting us up for a film where the bottom (the devil) comes out on top.  I also liked the theme of how one man’s redemption can lead to the redemption of another, even if it is not intentional. 

Lest I be accused of being soft, I do have some criticisms.  For example, I did not get the feeling of claustrophobia of four people being trapped in an elevator.  Most of the time, we were looking into the elevator from a security camera.  I would have preferred to have five or six people trapped and I would have preferred camera work that would have captured the kind of “in your face” personal space that such cramped quarters would have engendered.  The story also had to rely too much on exposition to explain what was going on. This included not only a voice over, but most of the explanation came from a religious Hispanic guard who knew what was going on from the get go because of a story that his grandmother had told him.  His genuflecting and crossing became tedious, as well as his ever-so-knitted brow.  Of course, no one believed him (like the sheriff in “Jaws”) until it was nearly too late.  Such a plot device was not really needed in that the audience could come up with their own interpretation without a lot of difficulty.
I have never fully understood why those religions that posit the presence of a devil seem to make the devil more powerful that their deity.  If not more powerful, at least he or she does better tricks.  Why don’t four people get stuck in an elevator with god who makes them do good things?  What- that would be boring.

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