Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday Reboot: Devil

Devil was released in 2010 and stars Chris Messina, Caroline Dhavernas and Bokeem Woodbine. Detective Mowden is talking to his sponsor about his sobriety, when the sponsor suggests that he seek a high power. Mowden is resistant because he cannot understand how God could allow his family to be killed by a drunk driver.  Later that morning he is called to a suicide and when he goes to the building that he believes the man jumped from the situation quickly escalates. Mowden gets a call for the location when five people get stuck in the elevator and one of the women has her back bitten. One of the five people who are stuck in the elevator is the devil.

Along the way, anyone who tries to help free the people from the devil's grasp is killed.  Apparently, the devil does not take kindly to interference. Ramirez who is a security guard watching the footage is the only one who figures out what happened. It seems that when he was a child, his mother used to tell him stories about the devil appearing to punish the wicked.  Until what happened in the elevator, he had always believed that these stories were a myth. When Ramirez tries to tell Detective Mowden about what he saw in the footage -- Lustig a white security guard -- tells Mowden to just ignore Ramirez.

After the salesman dies, Ramierz says, "you must consider that one of those people might be the devil." The moment these words come out of his mouth Mowden says, "I want you to stop telling campfire stories and get your head in the game."  Mowden says that he must be missing something because they don't look like murderers.

It turns out that the salesman ran a ponzi scheme in which many people lost their life savings and one man even committed suicide, Mowden discovers during his investigation.  When Ramierz shows him the strange image on the tape and says that even guys like Mowden, who don't believe in God, believe in the devil, Mowden pulls out a coupon with words "I'm sorry on it" - a note from the hit and run driver who killed his family.  Mowden says that he doesn't believe in the devil because there is enough evil right here on earth.

As the violence escalates, Ramirez says that there is a reason that they are there to witness what is happening and that "he always kills the last person in front of the person they love most, to make cynics of us all." Alone in the observation room, Ramirez goes down on his knees and he starts to pray. As they begin to fight, Mowden comes back in, grabs the mike and demands that everyone put their hands on the wall. He asks Ramirez hypothetically how this story ends, and he says, "they all die. This is not your fault, they made the choices that brought them here."

When Mowden asks how to save these people, Ramirez responds, "you can't. You're never going to get these people to see who they really are.  The lies that they tell themselves lead them to him."  To tell you more at this point would reveal who the devil is and that could completely ruin the movie for you.

Social justice wise there isn't a lot to analyze here. Each of the five people trapped in the elevator has a horrible past, but it is interesting to note that only the Black security guard had a violent past.  I did find it interesting the person selected as the devil.  I would offer further analysis but tht would spoil this movie.  In the end, Mowden ends up forgiving the person who killed his family.  This fact in and of itself would not have been remarkable, had Ramirez not said, "don't worry if the devil exists then so does God."  By doing this, once again a White man is being elevated to a position of ultimate power.

For much of the movie, Ramirez was clearly the superstitious wise Latino.  He was the only one who recognized what was going on and he was dismissed until nearly the end of the film.  All of the White men around him were supposedly the rational and aware ones, while he was constructed as off kilter.  The fact that a White man is then elevated to God like status in the end, just makes his character that much more problematic.

I liked this movie and I liked the suspense of it.  I didn't figure out who the devil was and that for me is the sign of a good movie. In a spoiler free post, it is hard to really discuss some elements of this movie, but in this case, more information would ruin the movie for those who have not seen it and that wouldn't be fair.