video vault

by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: Devil

(Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

It’s a bad day in Philadelphia for five strangers who find themselves stuck in the elevator of a high-rise office building, then realize after a series of weird circumstances that dark forces are at work.

Fast-moving and claustrophobic, Devil is unquestionably the best film that producer/story writer M. Night Shymalan’s been involved with in for some time, but don’t ignore the contributions of director John Erick Dowdell (who scored with Quarantine), composer Fernando Velazquez and ace cinematographer Tak Fujimoto, who have whipped up a cult-worthy chiller.

Bokeem Woodbine, Bojana Novakovic, Logan Marshall- Green, Geoffrey Arend and Jenny O’Hara play the unlucky elevator quintet, each one a red herring. Rather than a whodunit, this is a “who-is-it?” — as one among them is actually the personification of the Devil come to raise a little hell on Earth. It’s up to disillusioned cop Chris Messina to sort through the Satanic panic before more hell breaks loose.

Like most of Shymalan’s films, everything builds to a twist in the end. Maybe one twist too many, but the build-up’s so good and so shrewd that, overall, Devil delivers. Rated PG-13.

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