Movie Review: Down/The Lift Are the Best Killer Elevator Flicks You Will See (This Week)

 

When the elevators in the Millennium Building in ol Manhattan Towne begin to malfunction (and by malfunction, I mean go completely ape shit and murder everyone in sight), elevator repairman Mark and plucky journalist Jennifer are off and running to solve the mystery (with little help from the police assigned to the case). So what could be causing this strange “mechanical failure”? Well, let’s just say that the elevators have a life of their own thanks to some experimental technology, and before long the entire building is quarantined by the U.S. Government as the body count grows to absolutely ludicrous proportions. Much Aerosmith and bloodletting ensue.

Good lord, Down is one delirious fright flick! It’s absolutely packed to the rafters with gloriously gory set pieces, a creepy cornucopia of genre veteran cameos (Michael Ironside, Ron Perlman, Dan Hedaya, Edward Herrmann), dodgy New Yawk accents, and a heaping helping of good ol’ cheese the likes of which hasn’t been seen on screens since the Italians lensed some of their eighties era horror pictures in NYC (the dubbing, editing, and constant mentioning of New York fit right in with gems such as Manhattan Baby and The New York Ripper)…and it wisely keeps it’s tongue firmly in cheek throughout.

If there are any negatives with the film, it’s that the runtime (nearly two hours) is a bit unwieldy. Things do move at a fast clip, and the story remains fun from beginning to end, but there are a few lulls here and there where the chatter becomes thick, and that definitely could have been fixed by a trim or two. Also worth noting is the CG utilized; it ain’t great, though given the time it was produced (2001) it gets a pass from your’s cruelly anyway.

So the movie is aces, but what of the eerie extras contained in this Blu-ray/DVD combo? Kicking things off we get an information and anecdote laden commentary track from writer/director Dick Maas and stunt coordinator Willem de Beukelaer. It’s an engaging, self effacing and honest discussion with nary a silent gap in sight…err, sound? Anyway, next up we get a brief (and nearly dialog free) archival “making of” that details the construction of the film’s sets and stunt work. Following that we get a smidgen of behind the scenes footage, and by “smidgen” I mean two and a half mother F’n hours worth! It’s a cool “fly on the wall” glance at what the shooting of the film was like. Rounding out the package are some teasers, a trailer, and a poster and stills gallery.

If you like ’em bloody and ridiculous (and perhaps a bit chatty), then Down is the fright flick for you! It’s off-kilter, gory, filled with genre legends, and c’mon…it has a killer F’n elevator…what’s not to love!

 

 

 

 

Remember Down? Seriously?!! You just read about it like 2 seconds ago…what is wrong with you?!! Anyway, The Lift is the flick what was remade to bring us Down. Same writer/director, same plot, a lot less Aerosmith.

The basics are pretty much the same between the two pictures; the occupants of a modern high-rise begin to experience extreme terror due to the machinations of a seemingly  sentient, and murderous, elevator system. Enter put upon repairman Felix, who must team up with a spunky female journalist to figure out just what in the unholy hell is going on with the maniacal machine. Also identical to Down is The Lift‘s strong satirical bent and tongue in cheek presentation, and many of the gore set pieces.

What makes the film’s different you may ask? Well, budget for starters. For all intents and purposes, Down was budgeted like your standard Hollywood picture, and had the name brand stars, costly special effects, and glamorous location shoots to prove it. The Lift on the other hand is a much smaller budgeted affair, but in my opinion, it helps the picture as everything is down and dirty; from the practical effects work, to the non-“movie star” appearance of the cast, to the more sedate location (The Netherlands rather than barely pre-911 New York). All of this adds to a deficit of distractions that helps the story take center stage, rather than poking you in the eyeballs with garish computer generated imagery and “Hey, I know that dude!” cameos. Other divergences include more of the home life of our heroic handyman, no major military intervention for the film’s climax, and (thankfully) a more reasonable, less endlessly talky, run time (this film runs nearly twenty minutes less than it’s remake).

As with Down, the bonus content here is enjoyable as well and features: another ultra-informative and anecdote packed audio commentary from Maas (this time joined by Editor Hans van Dongen), an interview with actor Huub Stapel, and a short film from Maas titled Long Distance. Trailers and a poster and still gallery are also included in the release.

All in all, The Lift is every bit as enjoyable as it’s redux Down, and actually moves at a better clip…plus it contains enough differences to make it worth owning in it’s own right (and for the record, I’m kind of surprised Blue Underground didn’t package these babies together as some sort of box set). Just buy ’em both will ya…I promise you won’t be disappointed!

 

 

 

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