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John Erick Dowdle’s ‘Devil’ is an Unheralded Gem

Written by: Matt Molgaard

Directed by: John Erick Dowdle

Cast: Chris Messina, Caroline Dhavernas, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O’Hara

Remember that time John Erick Dowdle crafted a clever little picture about the devil and the general public avoided it like the plague? This was back when Resident Evil films still resembled horror rather than sci-fi exclusives, and remakes of The Wolfman, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Crazies had hardcore fans buzzing with excitement and curiosity. In hindsight, it’s rather easy to understand why Dowdle’s Devil was treated with the affection of a herpes infected adult entertainer. It’s too bad really, because this film boasts some surprisingly enjoyable exchanges and taut scenes, and for the record, it’s just as good, if not better than the aforementioned pictures.

I faintly recall catching the film (which for the record, is about a group of people trapped in an elevator with the devil, who’s wearing human skin in order to disguise his true identity) back when it hit theaters in September of 2010. To be completely honest, I didn’t expect much, and I showed a serious disrespect toward the flick by heading into my local cinema after drinking enough liquor to ensure I paid the john at least three visits inside of 80 minutes. Typically I’d say I wasted $10, but after revisiting Devil again, I don’t feel so bad about tossing my hard earned cash into the Devil’s bucket. The flick is damn solid, and certainly deserved the cash of consumers. Dowdle is a ridiculously talented guy (check out The Poughkeepsie Tapes and Quarantine for additional evidence) and he’s worthy of respect.

Brian Nelson crafts a tight script with loads of intriguing mystery and there are some excellent performances in store for viewers. I found Chris Messina‘s depiction of Detective Bowden to be a bit stiff and awkward in spots, but Bokeem Woodbine and Logan Marshall-Green are absolutely terrific as victims of the fatal elevator incident, and they more than override any awkwardness presented by Messina. Jenny O’Hara and Geoffrey Arend are terrific in mirrored confines, but unfortunately they’re a bit underused.

If you opted to avoid this one, rethink that decision. For a story that takes place in one rather cramped elevator, the tale feels extremely dynamic and deceptively grand. The majority of this specific journey is smooth while stimulating. There are a few death scenes that produce some genuine chills, and the pic’s climax is strong enough to consider this a bona fide sleeper success. Devil is an unheralded gem, and it’s about time the horror community recognize that fact.

Rating: 3.5/5

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About The Overseer (2283 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

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