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Horror and Suspense Films

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listed in alphabetical order by name of film

Scary Because It's Possible: The Bad Seed, the Film

Scary Because It’s Possible: The Bad Seed, the Film

#NoSpoilers It's October, and that means it's time for scary movies. When I was young, vampires and ghosts and werewolves usually did the trick. As ...
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To Make Cynics of Us All: Devil, the Horror Film

To Make Cynics of Us All: Devil, the Horror Film

#NoSpoilers There is a long history of stories about humans being influenced or tempted to commit evil by some outside being rather than by their ...
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The Tragedy Doomed to Repeat Itself: The Devil's Backbone, the Film

The Tragedy Doomed to Repeat Itself: The Devil’s Backbone, the Film

What is a ghost? A tragedy doomed to repeat itself time and time again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to ...
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If You Dance with the Devil: 8MM (Eight Millimeter), the Film

If You Dance with the Devil: 8MM (Eight Millimeter), the Film

#NoSpoilers Crime films, frequently inspired by crime fiction, concentrates on criminals, their crimes, and (sometimes) on the detection of those crimes. The famed Noir films ...
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The First Award-Winning Horror Film: The Exorcist

The First Award-Winning Horror Film: The Exorcist

#NoSpoilers Though the word "horror" was not used to describe a film genre until the 1930s, films including supernatural or frightening elements, usually adapted from ...
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Setting the World On Fire: The Girl With All the Gifts, the Film

Setting the World On Fire: The Girl With All the Gifts, the Film

#NoSpoilers Pandora, whose name means either "all-gifted" or "all-giving," was ostensibly the first human female created by the Greek gods. Each of the gods helps ...
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Killing Others To Survive: Identity, the Film

Killing Others To Survive: Identity, the Film

#NoSpoilers The 2003 psychological horror film Identity is not a direct adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1939 mystery novel And Then There Were None, though the plot of Identity is ...
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The Demons Within Us: The Innocents, the Film

The Demons Within Us: The Innocents, the Film

#NoSpoilers I first read The Turn of the Screw when I was ten years old after I learned it was about ghosts, and much of ...
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Coming-of-Age with a Vampire: Let Me In, the Film

Coming-of-Age with a Vampire: Let Me In, the Film

#NoSpoilers The concept of vampires or vampire-like beings — undead who return from the grave and exist by stealing the "life essence" (flesh or blood) ...
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The Plague That Cast the World Into Darkness: Open Grave, the Film

The Plague That Cast the World Into Darkness: Open Grave, the Film

#NoSpoilers I'm going to be honest with you: I don't think much of post-apocalyptic dramas that include zombies. I mean, who's going to root for ...
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When Children Scare You to Death: Orphan, the Film

When Children Scare You to Death: Orphan, the Film

#NoSpoilers This story has been recycled a few times: parents who are longing for another child and also to do good in the world -- ...
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Not For Children: The Horror Film The Orphanage

Not For Children: The Horror Film The Orphanage

#NoSpoilers Of all the horror films I have ever watched or blogged about, The Orphanage (2007) -- written by Sergio G. Sánchez, directed by  JA Bayona, and ...
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The World of the Dead and the World of the Living: The Others, the Film

The World of the Dead and the World of the Living: The Others, the Film

#NoSpoilers Okay, so the lit-tra-chure purists complain that this film, which some say was inspired by Henry James' novella The Turn of the Screw, isn't ...
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Slasher-Horror as Art Film: Psycho, the Classic

Slasher-Horror as Art Film: Psycho, the Classic

#NoSpoilers Based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch, which was itself loosely based on the story of Wisconsin serial killer ...
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Suspense via Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven, the 2012 Film

Suspense via Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven, the 2012 Film

No Spoilers I'm not sure why the 2012 film The Raven doesn't have at least 9 out of 10 stars on popular reviewing sites because ...
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The World Breaks Everyone: Horror Film Classic Rosemary's Baby

The World Breaks Everyone: Horror Film Classic Rosemary’s Baby

#NoSpoilers The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong in the broken places. Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms It all seems so ordinary ...
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Shutter Island, the Film, Is Shuddery Good

Shutter Island, the Film, Is Shuddery Good

No Spoilers You probably recognize American Film Noir when you see it. Shot in black-and-white with stark lighting and dramatic shadowing, the films explore morality in ...
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You Are Now Entering the Cruel World: Texas Killing Fields, the Film

You Are Now Entering the Cruel World: Texas Killing Fields, the Film

No Spoilers You are now entering the cruel world bridge sign near The Killing Fields Since the 1970s, at least 30 young women and girls ...
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Hansel & Gretel With A Video Camera: The Visit, 2015 Film

Hansel & Gretel With A Video Camera: The Visit, 2015 Film

No Spoilers (okay, there's a couple, but they're not about plot) When I first saw the description for the 2015 film The Visit, written, directed, and produced ...
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Filed under #31DaysOfHalloween, Actors, Classic Films, Films, Films/Movies, Halloween, Horror, Horror Films, Movies/Films, Movies/Television, No Spoilers Review, Psychological Horror, Review, Review/No Spoilers, Science Fiction, Serial Killers, Suspense

To Make Cynics of Us All: Devil, the Horror Film

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There is a long history of stories about humans being influenced or tempted to commit evil by some outside being rather than by their own nature. In Christian translations of Genesis chapter 3, a serpent in the Garden of Eden tells the first woman, Eve, that she will not die if she eats the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Her mate, Adam, joins her in eating the fruit, and they do not, in fact, die after eating the fruit: they are only expelled from the Garden of Eden, which stands as a metaphor for their previous innocence of their own disobedient nature. Despite the fact that the serpent told Adam and Eve the truth, the serpent has long been associated with the evil and with the Devil if only because he revealed the evil that already existed in mankind.

In Christian tradition, the Devil is supposedly the absolute incarnation of evil and is completely separate from God, who is ostensibly all powerful, all knowledgeable, and all good. In most stories that follow the Christian tradition, then, meeting the Devil becomes an encounter with evil. Such a meeting may provide the protagonists with an opportunity to learn that all humans contain both good and evil (Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” 1835), to do evil themselves (Washington Irving’s “The Devil and Tom Walker,” 1824, which itself was based on 16th century German legends of Faust) or to resist doing evil, perhaps by outwitting the Devil himself (Stephen Vincent Benét’s “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” 1936).     

Devil, a 2010 American horror film, is based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan, originally written as a “nod to Agatha Christie’s” mystery novel And Then There Were None, where a group of people, each of whom is guilty of something in his past, is trapped in an isolated area and mysteriously dies one at a time. The film’s director John Erick Dowdle changed the original story by adding something he called a “Devil’s Meeting,” which he claims is a based in a legend of the Devil coming to earth to “test evildoers by tormenting them.

I’m not exactly sure why the Devil would “test” evildoers, and I can’t find any outside corroboration for any tales or legends of such devilish tests. Instead, I’d imagine that the Devil would be happy to have humans doing bad things. In The Book of Job, “the adversary” or “the opponent” (ha satan), which is not capitalized, is considered to be merely the opposite side of an argument. In Job, the adversary tests a man who has never encountered adversity in order to test the man’s absolute faith in God. The adversary does not test a man who is already defying God by going against His commandments and committing evil. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the idea of the Devil’s “testing evildoers by tormenting them” makes little theological or philosophical sense, the horror film Devil is actually an intriguing and unsettling suspense film.

Chris Messina (L) and Matt Craven (R ) in Devil © Universal Pictures

After a jumper plunges to his death from an office building, Detective Bowden (Chris Messina) comes to investigate, only to be plunged into another mystery when an elevator stops, trapping 5 people inside. The trapped people include a young woman (Bojana Novakovic) who plans to leave her rich husband and take all his money,

Bojana Novakovic, Devil © Universal Pictures

an older woman (Jenny O’Hara) who is a thief,

Jenny O’Hara, Devil © Universal Pictures

a temporary security guard (Bokeem Woodbine) with a history of violence,

Bokeem Woodbine, Devil © Universal Pictures

a mechanic (Logan Marshall-Green) who intentionally did not sign himself in at the security desk,

Logan Marshall Green, Devil © Universal Pictures

and a sleazy salesman (Geoffrey Arend).

Geoffrey Arend, Devil © Universal Pictures

When the occupants begin to die, police and others begin to suspect a murderer is trapped in the elevator, targeting the other passengers.

Jacob Vargas and Chris Messina, Devil © Universal Pictures

While one of the buildings security guards (Jacob Vargas) is filling Detective Bowden’s ear with ghost stories that his family told him, based on the guard’s belief that he saw something in the elevator on the surveillance video,

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Bowden (with the microphone, below) is desperately trying to determine why someone might want to kill the others passengers trapped in the elevator.

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Some critics and viewers complained that Devil was too short, was while others complained that the story was somewhat convoluted, by which I  think they mean how some of the characters’ stories were ultimately related to those of others. The film does have some minor elements of the supernatural, but they aren’t as important or scary as the psychological aspects of guilt, good, and evil, which involve everyone in the story, even the detectives who are there to save the trapped elevator occupants.

The film is better than its ostensible supernatural elements, which are so sparse, it’s almost like they were put in more by accident than deliberation. Devil is available for rent or purchase on Amazon, on YouTube, on iTunes, and more.

Related Posts

#NoSpoilers

7 Wonders of the Horror Movie World

The First Award-Winning Horror Film:
The Exorcist

The World Breaks Everyone:
Horror Film Classic Rosemary’s Baby

Shutter Island, the Film, Is Shuddery Good

Scary Because It’s Possible:
The Bad Seed, the Film

The Demons Within:
The Innocents, the Film

The Plague that Cast the World Into Darkness:
Open Grave, the Film

Not For Children: The Horror Film The Orphanage

The Tragedy Doomed to Repeat Itself:
The Devil’s Backbone: The Film

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