Devil comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p resolution encoded using the VC-1 codec and framed within a theatrically correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
This is a punchy image that generally handles the bold palette of rich colours and fairly naturalistic skin tones well. There are a plethora of sumptuous browns displayed in the building setting and the elevator itself that remain reasonably stable. Whites are a little off but blacks are inky. The problems arise when the image takes on a complex nature, with darker scenes sucking the detail out of them and crush starts to infringe upon the frame. Besides this, detail is of a fair standard but wavers too much to be truly praised. This is by no means a blockbuster, but the exterior scenes of the cityscape fare far better than some of the enclosed scenes. When diffused lighting is utilised and the picture relies upon intricate subtleties it falls down, with some posterization and an inability to handle the finer gradations.
There is dimensionality, but this hinges generally on the colours employed at the time rather than being a sign of praiseworthiness overall. The fine grain indicates that there has been no major smoothing but there are still scenes that highlight smearing and the air of artificiality surrounds the overall style, with sharpening bouncing around as things get softer. In close up, and under bright lights, the detail is excellent, with faces showing pores, imperfections and follicles extremely well, it’s just a pity that when things become less steady and the image becomes more complex the disc wobbles.
There are four audio options – English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1, French DTS 5.1 and a Descriptive Video Service. Obviously I opted for the lossless English choice.
This track is far more accomplished than the transfer, with it hitting many of the right notes for a chiller of this ilk. The score may seem a little flat to start with, being on the front heavy side, but once it starts to swell it displays a great balance of high and low frequencies. Many may decry the LFE not being able to be truly felt as the portents of evil arise, but when an impact is needed it more than makes its strength known.
For a claustrophobic film, largely taking place in a four foot squared box, there are some nice uses of the surrounds and more than sufficient directionality. Once the lights go out, or an object is in flight, noises can ping around the soundscape with far more precision than is arguably needed for genre fodder such as this.
The centre brings out the often hushed tones well, but falters in a couple of scenes, these though are in the minority and for the most part it does its job well, replicating speech in a naturalistic manner and integrating well in terms of level with the fronts. The overall effect is a track that may at times be front heavy, but wakes up whenever the Devil is near. The LFE could have been more consistently resonating, but when it is really needed it comes through. With a score that feels expansive across the front and with the help of some nice touches from the rears, all elements combine to create a track that is more than capable.
Deleted Scenes – 1080p – 3:56
Three scenes, intros for the saleswoman, old woman and mechanic.
The Story – 1080p – 2:32
Dowdle, Nelson and Shyamalan briefly (and I mean briefly) discuss the story whilst the vast majority of the two and a half minutes is filled with clips. The very definition of filler.
The Devil’s Meeting – 1080p – 2:26
Ysamur Flores, a Phd in folklore and mythology at UCLA (I suppose it beats a degree in David Beckham) tells us a bit about Satan as if he were real. A nice idea for a featurette, but the man’s fashion sense is the most frightening thing about it. Dowdle and Shyamalan pop up as well to add very little.
The Night Chronicles – 1080p – 2:15
A cursory explanation about what The Night Chronicles is and where Devil fits into the trilogy.
Devil is a pedestrian Mephistophelian thriller that is unlikely to win any awards for originality. Those involved may hope The Night Chronicles can be uttered in the same breath as The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but I’m afraid that, going by the quality of this opening entry in their planned trilogy, such an outcome will only ever likely be prefixed with the words “Nowhere near as good as”.
The disc is hit-and-miss, with the image bouncing around from excellent to flawed. The sound orchestration makes up for this to some extent, but shies away from being a truly standout track for similar, but not as prevalent or notable, inconsistencies. The extras may include deleted scenes, but they are largely negligible in terms of actual content, being as they are plumped for consumption with sickeningly copious amounts of clips.
Ultimately Devil plays out like a checklist of all the requisite elements needed for a decent satanic thriller but, funnily enough, simply lacks the soul.
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