In Agatha Christie's novel Ten Little Indians several strangers are trapped together in a remote location, and one of them is a killer who brought them all together. Replace the killer with Satan and the remote location with a stuck elevator and you have the horror movie Devil.

As narrated by security guard Ramirez (Jacob Vargas), sometimes Satan travels on Earth, tormenting the damned before killing them. This time, it involves five strangers trapped in an elevator in a Philadelphia skyscraper. These people are more generalizations than characters: a security guard (Bokeem Woodbine), a salesman (Geoffrey Arend), an old woman (Jenny O'Hara), a rick young woman (Bojana Novakovic), and a mechanic (Logan Marshall-Green). The five aren't happy when their elevator gets stuck mid-floor; and far less so when something bad happens every time the lights go out.

A movie set in an elevator could get boring pretty quickly, so Devil alternates with the outside world. Detective Bowden (Chris Messina) trying to figure out who the passengers are and other people work to get the elevator working, or to get to it. Horrible accidents seem to befall everyone who gets close to helping, and gruesome images flash on the video screen for the elevator. Then the trapped start dying...

Sadly, Devil doesn't go far beyond its initial premise. While the characters may be strangers to each other, there's almost no depth given to any of them (except Bowden) through the whole movie. Ramirez' narration is necessary to set up the premise for the movie, but it continues through the movie, removing a lot of the surprise of what happens next. Even darkness gets wasted: In many movies a scene in the dark generates suspense by leaving the audience what is happening, but this is used so often here that it gets too repetitive. ("The lights went out. I wonder what horrible thing will be there when they come back on this time.") And by the time you find out who the Devil is, it's not much of a payoff. Devil is a little more thoughtful than a slasher flick, but it's not that much more.

Overall grade: D+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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