By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Spooky trapped-in-elevator horror tale promotes forgiveness.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Amid the gore, there are some ideas worth thinking about. One man manages to break the cycle of destruction by admitting his crimes and "realizing his true self." Later, another character practices forgiveness rather than revenge. Characters work together to solve problems, and they persevere in the face of death. There's also something of a spiritual message in the film's final minutes.
Positive Role Models
Detective Bowden seems to be the strongest character here. He tried to drink himself to death after losing his wife and son but is now a recovering alcoholic -- he's a member of AA and is back at work. On the job, he works hard to overcome the odds and to save lives. But most importantly, he learns to forgive rather than take revenge.
Violence & Scariness
Whenever anyone dies in the elevator, the lights wink out, so viewers only see the results. But those results can be bloody and gory: There's a bloody corpse stabbed in the neck with a chunk of broken glass, a character hanging by the neck by a power cord, and a character's head twisted around backward. Viewers also see "imaginary" images of bloody corpses and a devil's face. A character falls out a window, and another is electrocuted -- again viewers mainly see the results, rather than the incidents themselves.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A woman in the elevator accuses a man of grabbing her bottom.
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A few uses of "s--t," plus "ass," "butt," "jerk," "hell," "scumbag," "damn," and "oh my God."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A cop is a recovering alcoholic. He explains how he tried to drink himself to death after the loss of his wife and child. In the movie, he's 90 days sober and meets with his sponsor. Another character causes a drunk-driving accident. Viewers see him reaching for a beer while driving.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this horror movie -- which was produced by M. Night Shyamalan (who also wrote the story) -- is about five people who are trapped in an elevator ... with the devil among them. There's a fair bit of blood and gore (though not as much as in some R-rated horror movies) and several disturbing images of dead or broken bodies. Expect some language (including "s--t") and a few sexual references, as well as a character who's a recovering alcoholic. Another character drives drunk, with tragic consequences. All of that said, older teens who can stomach the scares may find some thought-provoking ideas here about the power of forgiveness over revenge.
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Based on 8 parent reviews
Not really scary
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What's the Story?
On a typical workday in Philadelphia, five people find themselves trapped in an elevator. As the security and maintenance crew -- and eventually the police -- try to get them out, certain clues begin to suggest that the devil is among them, playing them against one another and destroying them one by one. Each of these five people has a secret that may have brought them together ... and even the police detective, a recovering alcoholic with a dark past, may have a specific reason for being there. Can the humans solve the mystery before the devil destroys everyone?
Is It Any Good?
The movie's low-budget to be sure, but it's streamlined and economic. Ever since he followed a massive hit (The Sixth Sense) with several duds (Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender), M. Night Shyamalan simply doesn't have the clout that he once had. So attaching his name as story writer and producer to this simple horror film adds a certain level of expectation -- and not of the positive variety. Surprisingly, DEVIL isn't that bad.
For a small package, it conjures up some effective ideas and scares, as well as some terrific atmospheric moments, ranging from the odd, upside-down opening credits to a scene of a maintenance man chasing his cap across a wind-blown rooftop. The movie may get a little too smarty-pants toward the final third, but it's easy enough to be drawn under its spell by that point. There's far less at stake here than in Shyamalan's last few letdowns, and it mostly works.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence, blood, and gore. How did it make you feel? How does it compare to what you've seen in other horror movies?
Did the devil give the five people a chance to redeem themselves? What message is the movie sending about revenge? What about forgiveness?
- In theaters: September 17, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: December 21, 2010
- Cast: Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Green
- Director: John Erick Dowdle
- Inclusion Information: Black actors
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence and disturbing images, thematic material and some language including sexual references
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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