Devil (also known as The Night Chronicles: Devil) is a 2010 American supernatural thriller film directed by John Erick Dowdle and written by Brian Nelson based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan. The film stars Chris Messina, Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O'Hara and Geoffrey Arend. Devil was released on September 17, 2010, and is the first of The Night Chronicles trilogy, which involves the supernatural within modern urban society.
Ramirez (Jacob Vargas) speaks in a voice-over about stories that his mother told him about the Devil sometimes actively seeking out individuals who have sinned, while they're still alive on Earth. While taking human form, he traps them in a confined place only to turn them against each other, before killing them one at a time. Ramirez explains that the last victim will die in front of his or her loved one to make cynics of them all, and in the end, all will die. He says that the signs are set in motion with a suicide, as that is when the Devil first makes his presence known. This story is abruptly interrupted by a violent suicide of a man who had fallen from the thirty-fifth floor of a Philadelphia office building. The truck he falls on rolls silently away.
Detective Bowden (Chris Messina) is a recovering alcoholic who is assigned to the case of the suicide. He later explains that the reason for his alcoholism was the hit and run death of his wife, and toddler son, five years prior, in which the perpetrator was never apprehended. Meanwhile, five strangers board an elevator, which becomes stuck between floors. When security finds them, they notice that there is CCTV and a radio with which they can call into the elevator, but they have no way of hearing the passengers in return. Bowden takes the investigation regarding the elevator as it is the same building from which the suicide victim jumped.
Ramirez is revealed to be one of the security guards and is disturbed by an image of what looks like a screaming face frozen on the video monitor.His boss Lustig (Matt Craven) dismisses the superstitious suspicions and sends repair technician Dwight (Joe Cobden) to investigate the elevators while Bowden tries to ascertain the identities of the individuals. Only four of the five are accounted for: Vince McCormick (Geoffrey Arend), a sleazy mattress salesman; Sarah Caraway (Bojana Novakovic), the wife of a rich man who is a pathological liar and plans to leave her husband and take his money; Ben Larson (Bokeem Woodbine), a temporary security guard with a history of violence; Jane Kowski (Jenny O'Hara), an older woman who is seen on video to be a thief, and another man who later introduces himself as Tony (Logan Marshall-Green), who does not appear to have signed in at the security desk.
The power goes out in the elevator and the lights start flashing. When they come on, Sarah appears to be wounded with what appears to be a bitemark. All suspicion is initially focused on Vince who has been edgy since the ride began. The lights start flashing and losing power, Sarah becomes queasy and sees a vision of everyone around her slaughtered on the floor, even herself. There is another power failure and when the lights are on, Vince is seen dead, thrown into the mirror only to have his jugular vein sliced. The others watch in horror as he dies, forcing Bowden to consider this a murder scene. Dwight attempts to rappel down the elevator shaft via a pulley to try to fix the elevator, but Ramirez says that the Devil will stop any attempts to help his victims, and Dwight's strap comes loose when he is knocked over by a flock of pigeons and plummets to the roof of the elevator, killing him. The power goes out again and screams are heard from everyone. When it comes back, Jane is found hanging from the ceiling from a light cable, dead, causing both Sarah and Ben to accuse Tony while Tony swears his innocence. Tony then releases her from the cable, causing her body to fall to the floor.
Lustig goes to investigate the power in the basement and there finds a loose power cable that appears to be the cause of the elevator malfunction, but he is viciously electrocuted. Meanwhile in a men's room adjacent to the main lobby, Bowden finds a set of tools that Tony had brought in and briefly suspects he might be responsible for sabotaging the elevator. His suspicions then turn to Ben when he realizes that the building's security company, is owned by Sarah's husband. Ben is revealed to be suffered from claustrophobia. Aware of Ben's violent past, he becomes convinced that Ben was hired to kill Sarah by her husband to keep her from leaving him, and that the two other murders were orchestrated to make the entire episode appear as a random serial killing. However Ben himself becomes the victim of the next blackout, when he winds up on the floor with his neck twisted around grotesquely.
The two remaining survivors, Sarah and Tony, face off with each other, but lower their weapons after Detective Bowden calms them down over the loudspeaker. Then there is another blackout and Sarah's throat is cut. As she struggles to breathe in Tony's arms, a woman claiming to be Tony's fiancee is brought before Bowden and informs him that Tony's last name is "Janekowski", and that he actually did sign in for a job interview, thus eliminating the possibility of the old woman's name being Jane Kowski.
As they realize this, the dead body of the old woman rises up behind Tony, revealing herself to be Satan himself. Tony tries to bargain with her to save Sarah's life and sacrifice his own; she scoffs at this, revealing that she's going to kill him anyway. In a last, desperate plea for forgiveness, Tony confesses to a hit and run five years earlier. He says over the radio that he is "so sorry" and Bowden realizes that Tony was the one who killed his family. Bowden realizes that Ramirez was right about him having been meant to be the audience to this.
The Devil, powerless now that Tony has repented of his sin, curses before vanishing, and the elevator comes back on line, leaving Tony's life spared. Bowden offers to take Tony into custody for the confession, and while en route, informs him who he is. But despite saying he'd gone over what he'd say, or what he would do if they'd ever cross paths, he forgives Tony.
Ramirez, again in a voice-over, says that his mother always reassured him at the end of her stories, "If the Devil is real, then God must be real too."
- Chris Messina as Detective Bowden
- Logan Marshall-Green as Anthony "Tony" Janekowski (listed on the credits as "Mechanic")
- Jenny O'Hara as the Devil (listed on the credits as "Old Woman")
- Bojana Novakovic as Sarah Caraway (listed on the credits as "Young Woman")
- Bokeem Woodbine as Ben Larson (listed on the credits as "Guard")
- Geoffrey Arend as Vince McCormick (listed on the credits as "Salesman")
- Jacob Vargas as Ramirez
- Matt Craven as Lustig
- Joshua Peace as Detective Markowitz
- Caroline Dhavernas as Elsa Nahai (forensic psychiatrist)
- Joe Cobden as Dwight
- Zoie Palmer as Cheryl (Tony's fiancee)
- Vincent Laresca as Henry
- Rudy Webb as Old Janitor
- Genadijs Dolganovs as Janitor
- Joe Pingue as Business Bureau Clerk
- Craig Eldridge as Donnelly
- Killian Gray as Uni
- Michael Rhoades as Fire captain
- Kelly Jones as Firefighter Kurtzy
- Jonathan Potts as Wayne Kazan (divorce lawyer for Sarah)
- Alice Poon as Officer Choi
- Gage Munroe as Jesse Bowden
- Stacy Chbosky as Car Crash Woman
In October 2008, Shyamalan announced, in partnership with Media Rights Capital, that Devil will be made with the Dowdle brothers as directors and Brian Nelson as the screenwriter. Filming started on October 26, 2009 in Toronto. There was additional shooting for the film several months later in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Joe Cobden had to train for four months to prepare for his role. He said that preparing for his death scene, which took four days to shoot, was the hardest scene to shoot except for the introduction and closing.
Based on recent film clips, Ysamur Flores and the directors of Devil, John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle, explain that the movie is based on a Devil's Meeting, which is a premise that the Devil is on Earth to test evildoers by tormenting them.
Shyamalan acknowledged that the basic structure of the story was "an Agatha Christie nod." In Christie's 1939 novel And Then There Were None, as in Devil, a group of people with guilty pasts are trapped in an isolated area and begin to die one by one. The final plot twist is also the same, with the villain being revealed as one of the group who was thought to have died earlier in the story. Additionally, a main character in both stories is named Tony, and both killed two people with a car. However, Tony Marston, the one from the novel, dies first, where Tony Janekowski in the film does not die at all.
The film was set to have a release date on February 11, 2011, but was bumped up to September 17, 2010. The film's trailer debuted online on July 13, 2010.
The film was not screened to critics in advance. Devil has received mixed reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports a mixed score of 52%, with an average rating of 5.1/10, with the site's consensus being "It's better than many of the other films M. Night Shyamalan has been associated with, but Devil never gets more than a few low-budget thrills out of its fiendishly promising premise." Dennis Harvey of variety.com gave Devil a lukewarm review, saying "Like the solid B-thrillers of yore that often outshone A-pics topping double bills, M. Night Shyamalan-produced Devil is nothing very special or original, but it gets the job done briskly and economically."
The film Devil was released to DVD and Blu-ray Disc on December 21, 2010.
On June 23, 2010, Shyamalan announced the second film in The Night Chronicles, titled 12 Strangers at first, but later changed the title to Reincarnate. The film is about a jury discussing a case dealing with the supernatural. Chris Sparling is set to write the script and Daniel Stamm will be the director. Shyamalan has also confirmed that the story for the currently untitled third installment is actually going to be taken from the abandoned sequel of Unbreakable.