Despite the unfortunate title The Shaft or equally problematic Down, this is one of the better horror/comedies of this century. When you hear the premise of a possessed elevator that’s killing people in a huge building you simply can’t imagine how it can possibly work. But it does. This is a remake of the 1983 Dutch movie De lift, also directed by Dick Maas. After checking out Prooi, his latest movie about a lion loose in Amsterdam I knew I stumbled upon a really cool director. Something that I confirmed by watching arguably his best movie Amsterdamned, a true eighties extravaganza.
Starring young Naomi Watts, Down is an entertaining movie with great pacing and funny dialogue. The practical effects were great as you would imagine they would be with a subject like this. There are several ways that our elevator is able to fuck with people, ultimately killing them in the most creative ways. Maas knows exactly how to set up the tone and atmosphere to match the surreal story unfolding before our eyes. Cheesy dialogue, tongue-in-cheek humor and crazy scenes all work towards one goal: to keep you entertained. And to make things clear, this movie was released before the 9/11 attack and references made here are entirely coincidental. And weird if I might add.
After a series of strange elevator incidents in a Millenium Building, a popular tourist hot-spot, two technicians are called to check them out. And while Jeff quickly dismisses any problems with the elevator, Mark is not so sure. It seems that everybody wants to push this problem under the rug apart from Mark and one nosey reporter from a popular tabloid. They will embark on a mission to find out what’s really going on and why.
Don’t think that this is some low-budget effort with laughable practical effects. Used to working on a tight-budget, Maas took advantage of a $15 million budget shooting most of the movie in Europe and the end-product was pretty amazing. The cinematography is top-notch and it stood the test of time along with special effects. This is one of those movies that you will come to love and bother your friends to watch. It’s perfect for fun weekend movie nights, especially if you know someone who’s afraid of elevators. All their worst nightmares will come true with this movie. And if you’re looking for more movies about elevators I recommend you check out Elevator, Blackout and M. Night Shyamalan’s Devil. Enjoy.
Director: Dick Maas
Writer: Dick Maas
Cast: Naomi Watts, James Marshall, Eric Thal, Michael Ironside, Dan Hedaya, Edward Herrmann, Ron Perlman
Fun Facts: In real life Naomi Watts is afraid of elevators.