Halfway through the alluring trailer for Universal's September 17th thriller 'Devil' comes the mention of a familiar name: "M. Night Shyamalan." That's the director, of course, behind such suspense thrillers as 'The Sixth Sense' and 'The Village.'
Shyamalan produced and created the story of a handful of people trapped in an elevator who discover that the Devil is hiding amongst their numbers, but the film itself was written by Brian Nelson ('Hard Candy,' '30 Days of Night') and directed by John Erick and Drew Dowdle ('Quarantine'). It looks as though 'Devil' aims to draw from a variety of fears that have transformed many psychological thrillers over the years into surprise hit films.
The label psychological thriller is something that gets tossed around rather broadly these days, but at its core it refers to films that employ a scenario in which characters must use their minds, not their bodies, to survive some manner of life-threatening conflict. To that end, it's not hard to see the psychological elements 'Devil' is out to manipulate. That's not a preemptive knock against the film for being something audiences have seen before (it's safe to say that the "trapped in an elevator with Satan" story is not an overly familiar one), rather it's a testament to how frightening particular set of script elements are that new filmmakers continually find them worth exploring.