M. Night Shyamalan has been one of my favorite writer/directors since I was in high school. I’ve always felt that his movies are full of definite Christian views on the concept of good versus evil. Films like “Unbreakable” and “Signs” show a definite view that evil is very present in the world, but God can also use people and circumstances to intervene in our lives to overcome evil with good.
That message is very prevalent in Shyamalan’s newest film “Devil” which he wrote but did not direct this time around. This is supposedly the first of three Shyamalan movies that will be known as “The Night Trilogy” and if that does in fact come to fruition, I will be very excited to see what the next two movies have in store for us.
“Devil” begins with these words written across the screen from 1 Peter 5:8 “Be careful! Watch out for the attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.” Then the film begins and it is the story of five strangers who become trapped in an elevator in a very tall office building in downtown Philadelphia. Initially the five people are annoyed that they are going to be delayed from their various meetings they were on their way to in various parts of the building. The security guards in the building are able to see the five strangers in the elevator through the camera, but are unable to hear what passengers are saying, though the people can hear the security guards, who assure them they will be back up and running in no time. This however, is far from the truth!
What was initial annoyance turns to terror for the five people though, as the lights begin to flicker in the elevator and the passengers begin to be fearful that something bad is going to happen. One of the security guards also becomes fearful when during a period when the lights were flashing on and off in the elevator, the camera picked up an image of a devilish face grinning! This causes that same security guard who is dubbed ‘very religious’ by one of his co-workers to begin telling the other security guards about a story that his mother used to tell him about how sometimes the Devil walks the earth, disguising Himself in human form. The security guard then states that he believes one of the passengers is the Devil disguised in human form, and that he will begin killing each passenger off. This security guard is proved all too prophetic as the lights on the elevator continue to periodically go off and each time it happens another one of the five passengers meets a grueling death!
This causes the building security to call in a Philadelphia Police Department Sergeant to attempt to figure out which of the five passengers is committing the murders. The ‘very religious’ security officer begins telling the Sergeant about his theory, which the Sergeant finds ridiculous at first, but he becomes more convinced as the movie plays on.
While this film does a fine job of illustrating how in this world we often are not battling human flesh as Christians but “against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12b), it also demonstrates how Satan can be defeated. As our security guard states while he is telling the story his mom always told him about how the Devil sometimes takes human form and walks among us, ‘many times human beings would try to defeat him (the Devil) using force, but he cannot be stopped with man made power’ –That statement alone is very true, and while I will certainly not give away how this movie ends, I will say that the ending demonstrates how the power of forgiveness trumps the power of Satan!
You see because that is ultimately how Jesus crushed Satan’s head when he died on the cross. Jesus died for our sins, in our place, so sin would no longer have the power to send us to Hell. Since tempting us into sin is Satan’s method for sending our soul to Hell, Jesus disarmed Satan’s power at the cross! By offering us forgiveness for our sins of the past, present and future, Jesus has defeated Satan for all time. Therefore, each time we confess our sins to God he will be faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9) and each time we forgive another person for an act they committed against us we demonstrate Christ’s power over Satan to one another (Colossians 3:13).