Plot: One of New York City’s busiest locations, the Millennium Building is a towering structure that sees immense tourist traffic, not to mention the small army of its own employee base. This means even a slight problem can impact thousands of people, such as when the elevators had to be shut down for a week, as part of an exhaustive tune-up process. But some odd things are happening with the building’s elevators, such as stalls and lock ups, with no real reasons. The maintenance team has examined the system and can find no problems whatsoever, but soon, a man loses his life when the elevator traps him and lops off his head. Again the repair staff are unable to detect any issues with the system, so rather than risk a costly shut down, the elevators are kept open. More and more evidence seems to point to some kind of issue with the elevators, but can a cause be uncovered before more lives are lost?
Entertainment Value: Also known as The Shaft, Down is a remake of The Lift, with writer/director Dick Maas back in the driver’s seat. While The Life was a low budget, atmosphere driven horror/thriller, Down is more of a slick, action driven thriller. So while the premise remains the same, the approaches taken are quite different and that helps shake off some of the remake stink. I still prefer the original, but there is a lot of campy fun to be had with Down and it boasts an impressive cast. A killer elevator movie needs to have an eerie elevator and while the one here is pristine and modern, it still provides all the needed dread. If you’ve ever cringed when someone slides under a stuck elevator, you’ll be suitably creeped out here. The narrative is fine, but makes a wild turn that is sure to baffle some and entertain others, so the resolution is quite odd and adds some outlandish texture to the experience. James Marshall is fun here, as is Naomi Watts as an annoying journalist, while Dan Hedaya, Michael Ironside, and Ron Perlman also make appearances. I think Down was unfairly dismissed when it was released, as it might not be a genre classic, but there is some solid entertainment here and who doesn’t love a murderous elevator, right? If you’re a fan of Maas, the cast, or quirky horror movies, Down is well worth a look.
A voyeuristic scene early on shows a couple topless women and some “you can almost make it out” full frontal. A fun scene to kick off the movie, but sadly, this is all the sleaze to be found. I would have loved a pair of frisky lovers to have ended up inside the elevator, only to be tormented and killed. As for the violence, Down provides it and goes places other movies wouldn’t dare. You know how most horror movies won’t endanger pregnant women, kids, and dogs? Well, let’s just say Down has no problem breaking that trend. A great decapitation scene is the highlight, but we also have a skyscraper high dive, the old blind man and an elevator shaft routine, and a wild elevator ride from hell sequence. Not a blood soaked movie per se, but it has good violence and action, such as James Marshall grabbing a rocket launcher to confront the killer elevator. The dialogue is profane to the point of absurdity, with “fuck” being used more than any word (not really, but it is used a lot) and worked into any and all conversations. I also loved the daycare worker who cursed at the children and called them bastards, then we have Watts, who is so annoying it eventually turns humorous. On the insanity scale, this is a movie about a killer elevator that involves an absurd resolution, so it earns a couple points just on those traits. Then we have the profanity overkill, indiscriminate violence against unexpected victims, Marshall with a rocket launcher, and just a consistent vibe of camp throughout.
Overall Insanity: 5/10