Peters: Don’t Judge a ‘Devil’ by its Producer
By Katie Mae Peters
Horror films prove to be the upcoming mega-plex fad, which makes the timing of Devil perfect.
The film centers around an old fable concerning the Devil’s Meeting. Satan himself chooses a select number of incredibly sinful individuals to draw together on one set day. During this meeting of strangers, the Devil disguises himself and hides among them, torturing them with fear and dissention until only one remains. The only catch – Lucifer’s path to earth must be paved by a suicide. Any innocents who try to stop him meet the same fate as those destined for the meeting.
The opening score leaves a foreboding, ominous feel in the air. The title sequence unsettles the audience with a traveling view of the city, upside down. The mood reminded me of those dark rainy days everyone should stay inside and sip something warm, the days when even Lindsay Lohan wouldn’t venture any mischief.
Before anyone could even mutter claustrophobic; however, the horror Devil garnered negative reviews. With millions of dollars in flops since Signs, the marketing campaign of the film strayed away from any mention of Shyamalan in most promotional materials. Yet somehow, that’s all people have focused on since the film debuted. Critics bash M. Night for unoriginal material and a lacking storyline. Where are these bashing remarks towards the rest of Hollywood? Are these film critics really so ignorant that they still believe anything in Hollywood, let alone any thought in their own black holes they call minds, is original?
I commend Mr. Shyamalan for trying to reboot his career. This attempt to nurse a wounded career involves him penning a three-part series of short stories which involve the supernatural coming in contact with suburban America. Instead of demanding the director’s chair and screenwriter’s pen, he courageously gifted this first brilliant tale to screenwriter Brian Nelson (Hard Candy) and director John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine).
The story tried to weave a web of deception where the viewer deliberates between real man made circumstances for this meeting and supernatural ones. Whether the fault lies with Shyamalan’s original tale or in Nelson’s translation of story to script, something fell short. The audience never doubts the Devil’s involvement, which is a shame. Overall though the story made crowds jump and gasp. Every time the lights in the elevator fade out, the audience is left in the dark along with the damned stuck in the elevator until the lights come back up.
The movie creates a perfect first time showing. The twists and shocking reveals might make for a slower second viewing, but the performances will still be worthwhile. Up-and-coming Chris Messina made his mark on Hollywood with Vicky Christina Barcelona, Julie & Julia, and Away We Go. Devil proves to be his current horror masterpiece. His portrayal of an agnostic man struggling with his own demons and bent on rescuing the trapped before their time runs out, shows a man set on being a leader while internally giving into terror and helplessness.
Watching Tisch school Alumnus Logan Marshall-Green evolve his character on screen is a treat as sweet as the Crème Brule creamer I put in my coffee every morning.
While Devil surpassed its $10 million dollar budget opening weekend with over $14 million in revenue, the flick now must prove to investors it has the buoyancy to stay afloat amongst movie-goers in the weekends to come if either of the other two shorts in the Night Chronicles Series hopes to see the screening room. Just in case, M. Night should sacrifice Mel Gibson to the ticket gods, because if anyone’s to blame for Shyamalan’s failures, it’s that Lethal Weapon.
I wish, like so many of his plots, M. Night would have given the critics a little twist of their own. If he hadn’t already admitted to being the mastermind behind these shorts, attaining and writing under a pseudonym would have been genius. Not only would Shyamalan receive a fresh start as Madame India, but also be able to write freely without being held under a microscope. Only when we stop judging others and allow them creative room to breathe, can we expect a movie worth our time will be produced. I however vow to continue being a sheep of our culture and relentlessly judge stupid films and shitty awards shows.
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