9 August 2005 | aimless-46
For Viewers-It Brings You "Down" and Gives You "The Shaft"
Before Naomi Watts became a big star from her excellent performances in excellent films like "Huckabees", "Mulholland Drive", and "21 Grams"; she was delivering excellent performances in a lot of garbage movies like "The Shaft" aka "Down". And while her performance here does not save the movie, it does elevate (bad pun intended) it to a viewable level.
The only other reason to watch this thing is to see yet another example of the film-making phenomenon that big is not only not better, but much worse. Which is probably related to the human interest angle in journalism, where a large disaster cannot sustain interest as long as the same story on a smaller more human scale.
For those who don't already know it, "The Shaft" or "Down" is Dutch Director/Writer Dick Mass's remake of his 1983 classic "De Lift". One posted comment about the original says: "
. looks technically proficient, with fine color texture, smooth cinematography ( by Marc Felperlaan ) and tight editing ( by Hans van Dongen ), elements that help to maintain a high level of suspense. The story clearly echoes Jaws, with its obsessed hero and corrupted authority figures, who would rather disguise the truth than face it. Despite this movie being his debut, many of Maas's personal trademarks are also already in place: quick pacing, sadistic gore effects modified by edgy humor, mild satire on bourgeois preoccupations, and broadly etched supporting characters".
Apparently the title "Elevator" was already taken and "Lift" was too European for the remake he was left with two very stupid titles with which the distributors have been experimenting since 2001.
In the 1983 version, the elevator of an Amsterdam flat (another European term) misbehaves badly. The elevator begins trying to crush, suffocate and decapitate passengers. Fearless mechanic Felix does battle with the seemingly haunted machine. But the anti-technology twist is that the elevator has developed a mind of its own due to an experimental 'biochip'. Felix is assisted by a magazine reporter named Mieke de Beer ( wasn't that the name of Scotty's German pen pal in "Eurotrip"?).
The original was shot in just 30 days with a very limited budget, this constrained the production resulting in an intimate story, viewers identified with the characters and this greatly enhanced the suspense level. This time someone gave Maas a lot of money and he pumped up the production; moving it to New York, adding tons of unnecessary effects, making the elevator absurdly powerful, and geometrically increasing the size of the cast. The Amsterdam elevator was deadly but in ways that a malfunctioning elevator could be deadly. The new elevator is like a cross between a James Bond story and a poor 1950's science fiction film.
Not surprisingly the human interest wheels fall off immediately. If you ignore your strong impulse to bail and just keep watching you will see decent performances from Watts and the from various character actors who populate the cast.
Unfortunately for Mass, he choose New York City for this 2001 movie and deviated from the original by throwing in some misdirection about terrorists being behind the elevator accidents. There is even a line about the first bombing of the World Trade Center. Apparently this was embarrassing enough to insure that there was no theatrical release.