Devil (John Erick Dowdle, 2010)

I don’t subscribe to the notion that films can be “so bad, they’re good” or even the idea of guilty pleasures – there’s nothing condemnable about enjoying a film. I’ve certainly enjoyed a film like The Room, even though I’m critically aware of its… lack of artistic nuance. Lacking in artistic nuance would be an apt description for John Erick Dowdle’s film. Devil seems to insist upon any and every stereotype known to American civilization – there’s the black thug security guard, the religiously devout Latino, the money-grubbing Jew, and the gold-digging woman. It also sports typical cinematic expectations of incompetent police detectives, muddled statements on Christianity and issues of social status. Oddly enough, I was more offended by Dowdle’s crimes against common sense in technique – the setting of an elevator shaft is rarely used for its affect, and one could have changed the narrative to people being trapped in a cafe without losing a beat.  Actually, that would be a more logical setting location – the over-the-top acting from all its characters can be explained as having one too many espresso shots.