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Film / Devil

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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.

The story concerns a group of five people — an ill-tempered salesman (Geoffrey Arend), a celebutante (Bojana Novakovic), a grumpy old woman (Jenny O'Hara), a security guard (Bokeem Woodbine), and a stressed-out ex-marine (Logan Marshall-Green) — who, while stuck in an elevator, come face-to-face with demonic forces that want to torture and slaughter them one by one.

The second part of the trilogy, Reincarnate, was due in 2014, but has not materialized since.

This film contains examples of:

  • All Crimes Are Equal: It seems to be the Devil's philosophy.
    "Whores, liars, cheaters and deserters: all in the same."
  • Asshole Victim: The elevator passengers who fallen victim to the Devil have some sort of criminal record that caused them to be targeted. Although it's debatable whether their punishment is Disproportionate Retribution or not.
    • Ben has a history of assault, with his latest victim injured to the point of being in a coma.
    • Vince was behind a ponzi scheme 3 years ago and when it collapsed cost many people their assets to the point one guy killed himself over it.
    • Sarah has a history of blackmailing rich, married men and then married a guy so she could divorce him and claim his money.
    • Averted with Tony. He killed Bowden's wife and son in a drunken hit and run and never got caught. Yet he was genuinely remorseful that the Devil couldn't take him and in the end he willing turns himself in.
  • Big Bad: The Devil, disguised as the old woman, is the one who traps the sinful passengers in the elevator to pick them off one-by-one.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The five strangers trapped in the elevator all committed serious crimes despite that their personalities suggest otherwise.
    • Vince was initially presented as a nice guy with a bad sense of humor but investigating him reveals that he started a Ponzi scheme years ago that resulted in many people losing their assets (with one guy committing suicide). This happened three years ago and it's apparent that he doesn't have any remorse for what he did.
    • Sarah seems the most normal of the people trapped in the elevator, but she quickly begins to try to turn Ben against Tony early on and later deceives Tony into putting down their weapons (while she has a hidden one) so she can get an opening to kill him. She comes off as cowardly, manipulative, and self-serving with zero likable traits, and spends most of the film panicking and otherwise playing right into the devil's hands.
    • Jane. What looks like an innocent looking old woman with an abrasive attitude turns out to be the Devil all along.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: The 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.
    • However, it is a coincidence that Tony is trapped with the one guy that could possibly forgive him for the sin that got him targeted. Or maybe it is not? .
  • 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 Open: 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. Then again, being genuinely repentant of your crime is enough to be redeemed so it's not asking much.
  • 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.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Fittingly, the Devil is portrayed as such, being a malevolent monstrosity that can bend reality to its will, kill people in the blink of an eye, make toast land jelly-side down, and take on seemingly innocent forms to lure its prey into a false sense of security.
  • 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.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The movie starts in late afternoon and ends at night, so it takes place only in a couple of hours.
  • Faking the Dead: The old woman, actually the Devil, is the second to "die", presumably to further turn the passengers against each other. Once there's only one victim left, the old lady gets up sporting pitch black eyes...
  • 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.
    • Both points doom Vince, Ben, and Sarah; Ben and Sarah are repeat offenders while Vince is dodging accountability of his ponzi scheme for years, showing they lack remorse. As a result their victims clearly don't forgive them, with Sarah's husband outright estranging her and Vince's victims filing against him.
  • Gold Digger: Sarah has a record of blackmailing rich married men and is in the building to visit a lawyer specialising in forensic accounting in order to get the most out of her divorce from her rich husband.
  • 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.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy:
    • Special credit goes to the security guards, who take way too long to call the police or the fire department to get the trapped people out, when in real life, calling both would be the first thing you would do after determining that the elevator couldn't simply be turned back on. They also mention that the elevator company had gone out of business. This naturally does happen in real life, and when it does, a company would be scrambling to get in contact with a new company, because not having an elevator company insuring you is a wonderful way to be sued out of existence.
    • The guard who believes in the devil at one point drops to his knees, closes his eyes, and begins reciting a Hail Mary in front of the security monitors. Not only is he actively ignoring high strung claustrophobic murder suspects trapped in an elevator with each other, he recites the Hail Mary over the radio so that said trapped claustrophobic murder suspects can hear him. He is doing in Spanish, which thankfully none of them understand, but it still freaks them out.
  • Hollywood Provincialism: Bowden, a detective in Philadelphia, refers to a possible murder as a "187", which is the code in Los Angeles.
  • Homage: Shyamalan stated the film was an homage to And Then There Were None, and Tony was named after one of the characters from the book.
    • And of course the twist is that the killer is one of the earlier murder victims, who was only pretending to be dead.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Devil's old woman disguise. She looks like an old lady, but she's got Black Eyes of Evil and can alter reality merely with her state of mind. It's implied that this is just one of many forms the Devil has taken in order to claim people.
  • Innocent Bystander: The Devil will kill anyone who interferes with his plans and is mentioned to have done so in the past. Dwight falls to his death down the elevator shaft after his harness is sabotaged and Lustig gets fried by an exposed wire and stepping in water.
  • Karmic Death: Sarah tries to kill Tony with a glass shard after convincing him to a truce. The devil opens up her throat with it.
  • Lights Off, Somebody Dies: The Devil kills when the lights go out to make its victims more paranoid and has some sort of control over the lights.
  • Mr. Exposition: Ramirez provides the various myths and legends and that surround the Devil's appearance, allowing him to tell characters (and the audience) what is supposed to happen.
  • Neck Snap: The Devil twists Ben's head around a full 180.
  • No Name Given: Actually, their 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.
  • Ponzi: Vince used to run a Ponzi scheme before he was a mattress salesman and it's the reason why the devil wants his soul.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: Devil was going to be the first of an anthology series of films. It didn't survive this film.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Tony is genuinely regretful of what he did which renders his soul impossible to claim. The Devil could still kill him, but since he's been redeemed and would go to heaven, why bother?
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: And Then There Were None IN AN ELEVATOR! WITH THE DEVIL!!!
  • Red Herring: The Old Woman being a purse thief would certainly seem like Disproportionate Retribution for the Devil to come to collect her personally. Then it's revealed she IS The Devil.
  • Samus Is a Girl: A villainous subversion. The old woman turns out to have been the Devil the whole time, but it's very strongly implied that she is only one of many forms the Devil has taken over the years.
    Tony: Who are you!?
    Old Lady!Devil: Today, I'm an old woman...
  • Schlubby, Scummy Security Guard: The most Obviously Evil of the group is replacement guard Ben Larson, who has a history of violence that includes beating someone into a coma. For this reason, the detectives suspect that he may have been hired to kill Sarah.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Chris Messina, the star of the film, is nowhere to be seen in advertising.
  • Starts with a Suicide: One person commits suicide shortly into the start of the film. Apparently, a suicide is required to bring the Devil into the world to act. It is also what attracts the cops to the building.
  • 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.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: 5 people get stuck in an elevator, and then they get murdered one by one. The survivors grow increasingly unhinged by the threat of death and the suspicion of who the murderer is. Of course they don't suspect the Devil is doing it, or that "she" is one of the "dead" people.
  • 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 repentant and being forgiven.
  • Too Dumb to Live: One of the security guards sees a damaged and shorted wire in floodwater. He tries to move it with a piece of wood, but can't hang it up while standing on the dry part of the floor, so he steps into the water to move the electrical wire to a metal nail. It goes about as well as you'd expect.
  • 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.