Movie Review: Devil
By Elder Oyster, guest contributor
Shyamalan is one of those guys (like the Coen Brothers and J.J. Abrams) who could make a film out of home movies of his family trip to Disneyland, and I'd still pay $9 to watch it. I am not sure if 'Signs' will be the zenith of his career, or if 'The Last Airbender' will be the nadir. But then again, I don't care. He's so good at what he does, that even his worst is better than most of what comes out on the screen.
'Devil' is Shyamalan's latest film. It is a supernatural thriller - part horror, part mystery. The premise is simple - five people are stuck in an elevator, and one by one, they are attacked by someone, or something. The mystery that begs to be solved in real-time by a hapless detective assigned to the case, is who is the culprit, and what is their motivation?
I respect the movie enough to not put in any spoilers. With that said, based on the movie title, it's probably obvious that the culprit isn't a someone, but rather a some-thing. Right?
Here are some things I appreciated about the movie:
I appreciated that we come face to face with the banality of evil. Everyone in the elevator seems normal at first; then they start to show their true colors. And then we start to hear about the real dirt. But even when we're looking at the dirt, we think, 'this is evil, but it's so .. ordinary.'
And these people could be our next-door neighbors, our schoolteachers, or our pastors. Heck, they could even be us.
The other thing I appreciated is that the movie explores the evil of making excuses for our evils. And that, ultimately, repenting of our evil as well as of our excuses, doesn't give us, or our victims, a tabula rasa. That's a dreadful thought, and perhaps it might seem more dreadful than the Evil One himself, but that's how God made the world.
Those are the things I liked about the move. Here are some things that I have weighed (heh) and found wanting:
I don't believe that the Evil One, commonly known as 'the Devil,' has authority to judge us. I know that he is in this world, and that he causes mayhem, that he hates God and hates mankind, and that he is the original liar-murderer, par excellence. But, if the Evil-One does not have the authority to judge, then he does not have the authority to forgive, either. That is God's prerogative (note: I am not speaking of humans forgiving other humans).
The other matter I take issue with is the basis for the suspension of judgment. It has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with Jesus Christ.
Oh well, that's Hollywood for ya. What are ya gonna do? :)
On the other hand, Shyamalan has already explored the concept of Divine providence in 'Signs.' It's only natural that his quirkiness would demand that he explore a theme of dark providence in another one of his films.
And hey, it's just a story anyway. And Shyamalan is simply doing what he does best - telling a story.
Besides, there is a cameo of sorts, for the Divine.
...Keep your eyes open for it, though !
PS - Not for kids or for the squeamish.
PPS - It's just a story.