Written (but not directed) by M. Night Shyamalan of Village and Sixth Sense fame, this thriller squanders copious amounts of potential right from the off.
Which is a shame because the premises are indeed excellent.
Any situation involving anyone stuck inside a lift for more than five minutes should be enough to give the viewer sweaty palms. When that happens to five tetchy and unlikeable strangers trapped in the guts of a corporate skyscraper in Philadelphia, that becomes even better script material.
There are two problems however.
One is that the game is given away within a minute. Forget any build up or suspense related to whether any mauling is going to be the work of the supernatural, a deranged nutcase or pure bastard bad luck. As the film kicks off, the narrator (one of the office tower security guards) sets the record straight. This is about the devil and nowt else. Everytime the sense of suspense grows or something ominous happens, it gets killed off by a ready-made answer about the fact that the devil dunnit again.
And while that doesn't completely spoil the film, here comes the second and most crucial glitch.
Instead of focusing inside the lift in order to cash in on the claustrophobic element and the rising tension within the trapped group, the director keeps zeroing in on both the detective and the security guards in the control room. It's almost as if the people behind the camera were reluctant to spend any longer than strictly necessary on the five protagonists and their personalities. The only effect is to water down the whole thing, partly the reason behind a majorly anti-climatic ending.
Ultimately Devil is not at all a bad film. It flows, it's never dull and it's well acted too. Only, a little bit pointless.