M. Night Shyamalan wrote this twisty straw story of sin, punishment and redemption, in which five strangers — a biddy, a princess, a security guard, an ex-marine, and a mattress salesman — find themselves stuck together in an inaccessible high-rise elevator. When, under cover of periodic blackouts, mere inconvenience takes a violent turn, Detective Bowden (Chris Messina) is brought in to monitor the elevator camera feed and spearhead a rescue.

While Bowden digs up the histories of those trapped to find the logical culprit, one security guard insists on an explanation, from his childhood bedtime stories, that goes beyond the corporeal plane: Sometimes not content to wait and receive sinners in eternal damnation, the devil visits Earth to violently murder them.

An opening with handsome upside-down aerial views of the haunted city of Philadelphia is attention-grabbing, but director John Erick Dowdle doesn’t pull off anything from there on, failing even to produce the expected sense of claustrophobia. Devil is a Night Gallery reject, whose daring feats of narrative illogic were seemingly undertaken with a straight face.

Categories: Movies