When the express elevators in the Millennium Building, one of New York's most famous landmarks, start to malfunction and behave in erratic ways, elevator mechanic Mark Newman is sent out to... See full summary »
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Monique van de Ven,
A famous game show host is being harassed in a restaurant by a strange man who claims to have kidnapped his wife and daughter. A morbid game ensues in which the game show host turns out to be the contestant.
When the express elevators in the Millennium Building, one of New York's most famous landmarks, start to malfunction and behave in erratic ways, elevator mechanic Mark Newman is sent out to find the cause of the problems. His investigation meets unexpected resistance and not everybody seems to be happy with his involvement. After a gruesome and deadly incident, in which a blind man falls into the shaft and a security guard is decapitated, the police start an investigation. They are however not very successful. Mark is determined to find the cause. He is joined by a female reporter, Jennifer, who is looking for a juicy story. Together they try to unravel the secrets behind the mysterious behaviour of the elevator that seems to have a life of it's own. When things get worse and death toll rises, The Government, fearing terrorists are involved, seal off the building. What at first looked like a routine job turns into a horrifying nightmare in which Mark has to face an enemy whose blood ... Written by
It amazes me how often deliberately cheesy, tongue-in-cheek horror films are misconstrued as poorly made garbage. Down (AKA The Shaft), director Dick Maas' 2001 remake of his own 1983 Dutch horror De Lift, opens with the camera gliding gracefully over the NY skyline to eventually come to rest on 'The Millennium Building' where two night watchmen use an observation telescope to spy on big-breasted hookers at work in a neighbouring skyscraper; it's a superbly executed and wonderfully trashy opening that should make it crystal clear that Maas knows exactly what he is doingmaking a highly entertaining, campy schlock/horror that shouldn't be taken seriouslyand yet there are still those who seem to have missed the joke.
Oh well, it's their loss, because when viewed as intended, Down proves to be a lot of fun, packed as it is with outrageously silly deaths, delightfully daft dialogue, and knowingly clichéd charactersprecisely the kind of stuff I would expect to see in a horror film about a murderous 'living' elevator controlled by a malevolent state-of-the-art computer chip enhanced by living brain tissue.
An excellent cast clearly have a blast in their two-dimensional stock roles, with a gorgeous pre-A-list Naomi Watts as a feisty newspaper reporter, James Marshall as a cocky elevator engineer, Ron 'Hellboy' Perlman as the shady owner of the elevator company, Dan Hedaya as a grizzled NY detective, and Michael 'Scanners' Ironside as a loathsome scientist hellbent on perfecting his pet project, whatever the cost. Maas keeps the action moving along at a brisk pace, handling the special effects set-pieces, wry humour, and gruesome shocks with confidence, even going so far as to kill off women, children, and animals along the way.
And if all that isn't enough to pique your interest, let's not forget about the eerily prophetic scene in which characters discuss the possible use of a plane in a terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre; with 9/11 just around the corner, it stands out as a genuinely chilling moment in an otherwise intentionally ridiculous and wonderfully OTT piece of nonsense.
7.5 out of 10, rounded up to 8 for IMDb.
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