Saturday, August 14, 2010

You may feel like you've been shaftedafter watching 'The Shaft'

The Shaft (aka "The Lift" and "Down") (2001)
Starring: James Marshall, Naomi Watts, Ron Perlman, and Michael Ironside
Director: Dick Maas
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

The express elevators in New York City's famous Millennium Building suddenly develop minds of their own... and they are minds bent on murder! Will a slacker ex-Marine hunk turned elevator repairman (James Marshall) and a sexy, plucky girl tabloid reporter (over-acted by Naomi Watts) uncover the truth of what's happening, or will they fall victim to elevator industry cover-ups, mad scientists delving in Elevator Technology Man Was Not Meant to Know, and renegade killer elevators?

This often unintentionally funny horror movie features a script that should have gone through a draft or two more; copious overacting (everyone is SO over the top here that Michael Ironsides--featured in a small but pivotal part--seems subdued and restrained); and too many 'because the plot requires it' moments to count. There's enough interesting things here to keep the viewer's attention, but ultimately the movie is unsatisfying and lame, mostly because it has the killer elevators perform truly amazing and physically impossible feats without even bothering to attempt to explain how they manage to do it. (Sadly, one of my favorite killer elevator scenes is tied into one of these... the death of the obnoxious rollerblader. While I'll buy into the building's express elevators developing a mind of their own through the wonders of mad science, I can't accept that lets them completely ignore the laws of physics.)

A fun film, if you can get it cheap or for free... and if you have absolutely nothing to do, or nothing better to watch.

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