Alternative Media (Part 10): Devil

After the box office flop of Lady in the Water and The Last Airbender, there are those who would say that M. Night Shyamalan managed to redeem himself with the film Devil. The film, while somewhat simple and, in some parts at least, more than a little baffling, it shines out with its own themes of coming to terms with one’s own sins and the promise of redemption. Devil received a mixed reception but I, for one, find it as a rather refreshing film that showcases the frailty of the human condition and the personal devils that haunt us all throughout our lives.


The plot starts off when five people (a shady security guard, a rich young woman, a loud-mouthed businessman, a troubled veteran now-turned mechanic and a grumpy old woman) board an elevator and promptly get stuck in it on its ascent. As time passes, each of them revert to their unpleasant selves and, gradually, the situation in the elevator deteriorates with those within it lashing out at one another over their issues and their perceived slights towards one another. It gets to the point when they begin making threats towards one another as the claustrophobia and the authorities’ slow response to their plight bears down on them.

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But then, the plot really kicks off when it is revealed that one of them might not be who they seem. A police inspector is soon called to look in on the situation when the people inside the elevator begin resorting to violence. And then, from there, the murders begin…

The film is actually inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and it shows off how unpleasant people can be under the right circumstances and with the wrong company. The film is also vaguely reminiscent of the play No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre wherein the idea of Hell isn’t really an inferno where demons torture you, it’s a place where the wrong kinds of people torture you with their very presence. Devil is also one of the major inspirations for the Deep series, especially when it comes to what human beings are in the dark and what happens to them when there are no longer any final authorities that watch over them.

All in all, when you take away the supernatural elements of the film, it’s less about religious horror and more about what we are in the dark. That, at the end of the day, in order to truly move on in our lives and live as stronger and happier human beings, we must first come to terms with our past and the reality of it. However, should we choose to deny them, they become the real “devils” that haunt our lives and will always come back to visit woes upon us until we finally gather the courage to confront them and accept them for what they are.

Remember people, redemption isn’t something that comes to you on it’s own. It is something that you yourself have to move towards. Just as the remaining character in the elevator (I’m not telling you who it is), came to admit his own sins and apologized sincerely for what he had done in the past, so must we learn to accept ourselves and our own wrongdoings in order for us to find salvation.

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