Year: 2010
Production Co: Media Rights Capital
Studio: Universal
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Producer: M Night Shyamalan
Writer: Brian Nelson/M Night Shyamalan
Cast: Chris Messina, Bokeem Woodbine, Bojana Navakovic, Geoffrey Arend

The real horror of this film for most will be M Night Shyamalan's name in the credits as writer and producer. Try to forget about it, trust me – it's worth it.

It looks like a horror film with thriller elements but don't be frightened off it you're a bit of a horror film wimp – the reverse is actually true. In the very high concept pitch, a group of strangers get trapped in an elevator. One of them (we don't know which one) is Satan himself, on Earth to torment a soul for a few hours before he collects.

As the authorities outside try ever more desperately to free them the violence and body count inside the lift rises. That sounds ridiculous, I know, but director Dowdle pulls it off with some genuinely effective camerawork and clever use of darkness, an aesthetic that gives the whole film an effectively creepy mood despite being set in a skyscraper in a crowded city in the middle of the day.

It's not only a high concept premise, it's a very thin one, so the film has plenty of time to play with character, backstory and the plotting that results, issuing little details in the classic Hitchcock style here and there.

Good performances and characters and a good sense of suspense reminded me of a great novel that made me want to keep turning pages. You can also take the enigmatic last line as an even more drastic final reveal if you want, but like the rest of the film the story relies less on grandiose pizzazz and more on keeping you on a need to know basis.

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