Let’s face it: Netflix has a Queue capacity of 500 titles for a reason. We browse, we see something interesting, we add it, then it’s promptly forgotten, until eventually the wealth of titles sitting there that we know we’re supposed to be interested in is just too overwhelming. If only there were someone willing to watch all those movies for us, both old and new, and let us know which ones were really worth our time. If only there were someone willing to go… Through the Queue.
This week’s Halloween choice: Devil
“Detective Bowden must save five people in an elevator and he has to do it fast, because one of them is the devil.” What sort of sense were you expecting from director M. Night Shyamalan? What starts out as a simple tale of a mysterious suicide snowballs quickly into something with an unexpected twist, in more than just the plot department (which we all know is M’s specialty). Where Devil creeps up on you is in one singular moment where a poignant message is delivered: when you’re self destructing, it seems like it’s the world that’s against you. But you have to realize that sometimes, it’s your own fault.
As promised, sure enough five people are trapped in an elevator, where police look on, trying desperately to gain control of increasingly unexplainable events. But what carries itself ostensibly as a horror story – one which you could just as easily share with friends less prone to overthinking things – leaves the introspective viewer with some fundamental questions about what exactly it means to take personal responsibility.
Often times in life it seems as though we lack control, that events and circumstances outside ourselves are what prevent us from achieving our dreams. And it is easy to lay blame on others, wallowing in a sense of helplessness. Fundamentally though, presuming we’re right and that no negative situation is our own fault, what does laying blame outside ourselves accomplish?
Assume we’re not born tabula rasa, but that there’s something controlling our fate; whether the devil or determinism. The fact is, arriving at any conclusion through inductive logic is, at best, only highly probable. So even if we’re right, even if the horrors we face are not consequences of our choices or decisions, what harm does it do to accept that we are really the ones to blame?
Perhaps we live in a world of punishment where we all ought to repent. Perhaps we live in a world where you’re born into the random circumstance of having, or having not. If you’re right in thinking you have no control over a given situation, then unless your circumstances alter, nothing will ever change. But if you’re wrong, the consequence of that false conclusion is, just as similarly, that nothing will ever change.
But what are the consequences of falsely believing we have the power to make a difference? Ultimately, if we truly lack control (and thinking otherwise is a false belief), again nothing changes, despite the “power of positive thinking.” But if we’re right… if you accept responsibility for your circumstances, even with the potential that it might not be your fault, only then, in that small window, would you hope to be able to change, to improve, to better yourself, your circumstances and the world around you, resultantly.
Sometimes it seems like the world’s against you, and no matter what you do, you just can’t win. And maybe you’re right. But thinking that way, and being right, is just as good as not thinking that way and being wrong. Either way you have no influence on the results.
But when you’re in your darkest hour, stuck in an elevator, and it seems like nothing’s going your way, why not believe that you have the power to effect a change? What have you got to lose? If you’re wrong, you’ve lost all that anyway. But if you’re right… well, then maybe this story ends well after all?