Monday, March 7, 2011


Directed by John Erick Dowdle.
2010. Rated R, 80 minutes.
Chris Messina
Bojana Novakovic
Bokeem Woodbine
Geoffrey Arend
Jenny O’Hara
Jacob Vargas
Joe Codben
Matt Craven
Logan Marshall-Green
Joshua Pearce

One of the elevators gets stuck in a Philadelphia skyscraper and all hell breaks loose, literally. Watching from the viewpoint of the elevator’s camera, one of the security guards figures out for us that one of the stranded passengers is actually the Devil. Woah, let’s back up. The security guard doubles as our narrator. Right off the bat, he tells us that suicide opens the gate for the Devil to take human form and kill up some folks. Of course, the first actual happening is someone presumably jumping to their death from said skyscraper. Just never you mind who that is, or why. All you need to know is this not only lets the Devil in, but also gets Detective Bowden (Messina) into the building. Five years ago, his wife and son were killed in a hit-and-run.

Oh, you wanna know who’s in the elevator? It’s the standard Hollywood rogue’s gallery. We’ll start with the pretty girl (Novakovi), because there’s always a pretty girl. Next is the token black guy (Woodbine) because there’s always a token black guy. Actually, he fulfills both the quotas for a good black person and a bad one. He’s a thuggish security guard. There’s also the creepy guy who talks too much (Arend), the creepy guy who doesn’t talk nearly as much but seems to know way too much about the wrong things and an ornery old woman. Periodically, whichever one of them is Satan makes the lights go out and kills one of the others.

It’s an interesting setup. The execution of it runs on a pretty standard loop. The lights go out, we hear a lot of ruckus. When they come back on, we discover someone’s been hurt or killed. They all yell accusations at each other until the next time it goes dark. Meanwhile, Detective Bowden tries in vain to keep them calm by talking to them through the security system as others try to either get the elevator moving or the people out. Rinse, repeat.

Overall, it is not necessarily a bad watch, just philosophically confusing. Is the devil’s ultimate purpose here to do good? Either way, our fallen angel suffers from movie-villainitis. All movie long, Satan acts swiftly and offers no explanations. However, when we get to the end of our tale it’s suddenly time to talk, hiss, seeth and otherwise try to act all scary. It feels hokey and also leads us back to the question of what the devil is the Devil here for. It only makes sense that M. Night Shyamalan wrote and produced this. Still, while it’s not a bad watch, it’s not a good one, either.

MY SCORE: 5/10

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