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Film: Devil

Bad things happen for a reason.

Devil is a 2010 film inspired by the novel And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. It's the first part of The Night Chronicles trilogy, a series of films created and outlined (but neither written nor directed) by M. Night Shyamalan that deal with the supernatural in a modern-day urban setting. Advertisements for the film played up Shyamalan's involvement at first, but this was soon changed after negative audience reactions to his name being in the trailer.

The story concerns a group of five people — an ill-tempered salesman, a celebutante, a grumpy old woman, a security guard, and a stressed-out ex-marine — who, while stuck in an elevator, come face-to-face with demonic forces that want to torture and slaughter them one by one.

Devil has a rating of 55% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is far better than previous films Shyamalan was associated with.

The second part of the trilogy, Reincarnate, is due in 2014.


This film contains examples of:

  • A House Divided: The people in the elevator start fighting among themselves even before it becomes apparent that one of them is a killer. After there are two dead bodies, the suspicion turns violent to the point where it looks like they might kill each other before the Devil does. Though, ultimately, the Devil is responsible for all the deaths, and the last survivor tries to save the second-to-last.
  • Angry Black Man: Vince has a bad temper.
  • Big Bad: The Devil, of course.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Devil again.
  • Book Ends: The movie starts with an upside-down aerial shot of Philadelphia, which ends up zooming through the elevator shaft of the building this movie takes place in, and ends with another aerial shot. Only this time, the city is right side up.
  • Cassandra Truth: Ramirez, the security guard, claims that somebody in the elevator is the Devil. How would you propose that theory without looking like a loon?
  • Claustrophobia: Ben Larson the security guard claims to suffer from this. Though as Tony points out, his fear of it doesn't last.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Subverted. There's a reason why these five people are trapped inside an elevator no one can rescue them from.
  • Devil but No God: Averted. The final voice over mentions that if the Devil was real, God must be real as well.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: He's there, all the time, we just don't know what form he's taken.
  • Dies Wide Shut: The Old Lady. Tony tries to close them, but Ben (rather creepily) tells him that won't work for a few hours.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Although some of them have done some pretty bad things, the Devil personally coming to collect their souls before they have a chance to redeem themselves while they're still alive does seem a bit harsh.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: The old lady who was the second one to die was the Devil the whole time.
  • Downer Ending: Averted for Tony and Bowden. A lot of versions of this story would see Bowden kill Tony in revenge for killing his family, thereby damning himself to Hell. Luckily Bowden's not the type. As for Tony, a long prison term still beats eternal damnation.
  • Driven to Suicide: How the Entire Plot Starts Off.
  • Elevator Failure: The movie centers about five people being trapped in an elevator.
  • Empathic Environment: The city has thunder clouds over it, and it starts raining before too long.
  • Evil Is Petty: Before getting in the elevator, the Devil was stealing purses, for whatever reason.
    • She was doing this to procure a fake ID though?
  • Faking the Dead: The "old woman", presumably to further turn the passengers against each other
  • Final Girl: Played with: all the people on the elevator are guilty of serious crimes, but Tony actually does embody most of the qualities of a Final Boy.
  • Five Second Foreshadowing: After we've been lead to believe that the last person standing will be the Devil, the lights come on and the sole standing survivor, Tony, turns an empty gaze from the dying second-to-last survivor to the camera...and drops to the floor and starts desperately trying to save Sarah's life, just as his girlfriend arrives at the security centre note . A few seconds later, the "dead" old lady gets back up.
  • Forgiveness: A major theme of the movie, asking whether forgiveness both on an interpersonal and spiritual level is really possible.
    • Another possibility is that Tony was spared because he accepted responsibility for what he had done, and apologized for it.
  • Genre Savvy: Ramirez. He sounds like a lunatic, but he's also right about everything.
  • Gold Digger: Sarah
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Played with in that you don't actually see most of the violence as it is happening, but the immediate, bloody aftermath.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Why Bowden believes the Devil isn't real: humans are bad enough on their own. His family was killed in a hit-and-run, and the other driver left a "sorry" note at the scene. He changes his mind after the man responsible, Tony, tries to save the dying second-to-last passenger and proves to be so genuinely remorseful that the Devil can't take him.
  • Innocent Bystander: The Devil will kill anyone who interferes with his plans.
  • Kill 'em All: According to Ramirez's grandmother, the story only ends when the Devil has killed everyone it came for. Subverted when she is forced to spare Tony because he's genuinely remorseful for his crime.
  • Lights Off, Somebody Dies: Repeatedly.
  • Mr. Exposition: Ramirez
  • Neck Snap: The Devil twists Ben's head around a full 180.
  • No Name Given: Actually, there names are given, but in the credits the main characters are only listed as "Mechanic", "Salesman", "Security Guard", "Old Woman", and "Young Woman." Though the Old Woman doesn't actually have a name, as she's The Devil.
  • Oblivious Janitor Cut: A man falls off the top of a building while the janitor's back to turned to the window.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Tony is genuinely regretful of what he did which renders his soul impossible to claim.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Chris Messina, the star of the film, is nowhere to be seen in advertising.
  • SoCalization: Bowden, a detective in Philadelphia, refers to a possible murder as a "187".
  • Starts with a Suicide
  • Slashed Throat:Happens to Sarah.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Tony
  • Take Me Instead: After the Devil mortally wounds Sarah, Tony tries to offer himself in her place. The Devil is at first surprised by this, and then genuinely angered. It's all for nothing, as Sarah dies anyway.
  • This Is Unforgivable: The implied reason the Devil is able to claim souls isn't because people have crossed the Moral Event Horizon, but because the ones who were affected by their actions don't forgive them for their crimes, or perhaps just because they lack remorse. The one who he's ultimately unable to claim is spared by virtue of being repentent and being forgiven.
  • Twist Ending: As usual for M. Night Shyamalan. The lights come back on to show Tony standing among the bodies and staring at the camera while Sarah chokes on her own blood...and then he drops to his knees to try to save her, and the "dead" old woman gets back up, her eyes pitch black.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: It doesn't get much more uncomfortable than being in there with The Devil.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: Apparently you can tell if the Devil's around by just getting some toast, putting jelly on it then dropping it. If it lands jelly-side down, be worried. Be very worried.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Or "What Happened To The Subplot?" The suicide at the beginning of the film really doesn't serve much of a purpose, except to get Bowden to the building, which is odd, because the film builds up the rather convoluted nature of the event quite a bit. One of the characters even says "the story Starts with a Suicide," but never explains why.
    • The suicide note said that she did it because she could feel that the Devil was near. The narrator guy also said that bad things tend to happen when he is around. Essentially, she was collateral damage.
    • Part of the narrator's story was that a suicide allows the Devil into the world.
  • Your Mom: It backfires.
    Dwight: [over radio] You sure you're reading that right? Your eyes ain't what they used to be.
    Lustig: [in control room] You know what, I'll ask your mom to read it for me next time I got her bent over the console.
    Dwight: My mom's 78, have at it.
Deep SouthImageSource/Live-Action FilmsOblivious Janitor Cut
DetentionHorror FilmsDevil Doll
Detective DeeFilms of the 2010sDinner for Schmucks

alternative title(s): Devil
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