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 »
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
Dutch director Dick Maas has essentially remade his own 1983 film De Lift with 2001's The Shaft (originally entitled Down), about an evil elevator system that suddenly begins killing people in a fancy-schmancy skyscraper. Artisan has shamelessly redesigned the cover art to resemble The Ring, and to highlight the presence of star Naomi Watts, though who that kid on the cover is supposed to be is really anyone's guess, because he is certainly not in the movie I watched.
In between the dull investigative drivel, Maas delivers a few fun horror moments, including a spectacular elevator door decapitation and a fun bird's-eye P.O.V. of a character's leap off the observation deck. Maas even subjects an elevator full of very pregnant women to a terrifying ride.
With the exception of a few establishing shots, it appears that much of The Shaft was shot in Europe, and the unconvincing "New Yawk" accents of most of the extras is definitely giggle-worthy. To Maas's credit, he has somehow managed to fill the film with a decent blend of familiar faces in supporting roles, including Edward Herrmann (the building manager), Dan Hedaya (a police lieutenant), Ron Perlman (the elevator repair company boss) and venerable bad guy Michael Ironside.
There are brief moments of great fun in the murderous elevator flick, The Shaft, but too much time is spent talking and the dramatic payoff is a real eye-roller, even in B-movie horror terms. Artisan has supplied a solid 5.1 surround track, but the horribly cropped 1.33:1 fullframe transfer almost negates that.
Yep, The Shaft has its ups and downs.
6*(10* Rating System)
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