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'Devil' in the details

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Devil

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"Devil" takes place almost entirely in an elevator. There are a few scenes that are filmed outside of the elevator as the modern world tries to understand what is going on inside that metal coffin, but the majority of "Devil" is very much a stage play where all the characters are suspects and it's up to the audience to figure it out.

There's the sleazeball salesman (Geoffrey Arend), the jilted rich wife (Bojana Novakovic), the security guard with a history of violence (Bokeem Woodbine), the elderly thief (Jenny O'Hara), and the cypher (Logan Marshall-Green).

The witnesses are just as important to this story as the victims. Witnessing his morality play in the elevator are two security guards and a cop: narrator Ramirez (Jacob Vargas), his boss Lustig (Matt Craven), and Detective Bowden (Chris Messina, from The Mindy Project). Ramirez sets the plot up: The Devil seeks out sinners, traps them, turns them against each other, and then kills them off one by one, with the last victim to die in front of his loved ones to make the world a more cynical place.

What ensues is a relentless escalation of tension as one by one the victims die in the elevator. Outside, all rescue attempts end in gruesome accidents. In parallel with the events in the elevator, Bowden tests out an evolving hypothesis as to who the murderer is, revealing new twists with each piece of evidence he uncovers.

What's interesting about "Devil" is how it juxtaposes a ridiculous situation (The Devil is real! People can be murdered within five feet of each other without knowing who did it!) contrasted with direct surveillance by trained observers (CCTV in the elevator recorded and monitored by police). "Devil" slowly strips away everything we know about modern technology until we're left embracing the supernatural solution.

"Devil"'s creepy mood and cat-and-mouse game evokes predecessors like "Ten Little Indians" and "Cube." But its plot twist will seem hauntingly familiar and for good reason. "Devil" was produced by M. Night Shyamalan.

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