Corny, silly, cheesy and a whole lot of fun
JLind555 | 07/09/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Shaft" is one of those guilty pleasures you feel somewhat abashed at liking. I even feel embarrassed at giving this movie four stars. The plot is off the wall, some of the acting sucks like a Hoover vac, and the whole thing comes off like a bad C movie. But I gotta admit -- it's a helluva lot of fun to watch.
So here we are in New York City in the Millenium Building, 102 stories high, just like the Empire State Building which it may or may not be representing. There's a big bank of elevators servicing the building. Some of them, for some weird reason, seem to have developed a mind of their own and start acting out in all kinds of crazy, nasty, and just plain lethal ways.
One elevator suddenly turns into a sauna, trapping a dozen women in the end stages of pregnancy who have just left their Lamaze class and causing them to go into labor and give birth right there on the floor. Another elevator door opens into an empty shaft, down which plunges a blind man and his dog. A third elevator sucks in a skateboarder like a pneumatic tube, shoot him 86 stories up like a rocket taking off, and propels him out through the nearest window 86 floors down, leaving the poor guy splashed like an overripe melon all over the sidewalk. Yuck. Another elevator full of passengers zooms up the shaft while the floor drops out, dumping everybody to their deaths below before it finally zooms through the roof. A security guard is decapitated and a cop is cut in half. These elevators aren't kidding around.
A repairman, somewhat woodenly played by James Marshall, can't find a thing wrong with them but something's evidently out of wack with all these elevators doing their own thing and making all kinds of mayhem. An ambitious newspaper reporter (doesn't every horror movie have to have one of those?), played by Naomi Watts, thinks Somebody is hiding Something and goes off to investigate. Of course she's right. Turns out a mad scientist (another stock character) has been experimenting with bio-chips and planted them in the elevator shaft. You can figure the rest out for yourself.
There's a supporting cast that includes Michael Ironside as Dr. Demento and Ron Perlman as the guy who hired him and lived to regret it, and the cast give adequate performances for the most part, but the stars of this film, of course, are those crazy-creepy elevators. There's also a great scene with two teenagers in a breath-taking skateboarding race through the streets of midtown Manhattan into the garage of the Millenium Building, from which one emerges shouting "Beat ya!" and the other emerges shot like a cannonball from the elevator screaming bloody murder. Don't even think of taking this movie seriously. Just accept it for the cheesy camp it is and enjoy the ride.
Laughably stupid, but (barely) watchable nonetheless.
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 10/10/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The Shaft (Dick Maas, 2001)
The Shaft, also known as Down, is one of those incredible train wrecks that makes you wonder how so very many recognizable people found themselves attached to such a godawful movie. Dutch director Maas (probably best known on this side of the pond for Amsterdamned) revisits his own De Lift (1983), but with a much more ambitious scope and an American setting.
The plot: Mark Newman (Twin Peaks' criminally underutilized James Marshall), an elevator repairman, begins to suspect something's hinky, when the elevators in New York's Millennium Building start acting weird. Accompanied by perky reporter Jennifer Evans (Ring's Naomi Watts), he has to figure out what's going on. Yeah, that's pretty much it, with most of the movie dedicated to the elevator's antics, goin' 'round killin' anyone who gets in its path, and a few others just for fun.
But what's really crazy about this movie is the cast. Watts would be nominated for an academy award two years later for 21 Grams, and won the AFI Best Actress award the same year this came out for Mulholland Dr.. Marshall's partner is played by Eric Thal (Snow Falling on Cedars). His boss is Ron Perlman (Hellboy, and a Golden Globe winner for his TV work in Beauty and the Beast). The bad guy is played by Michael Ironside (Scanners). Dan Hedaya, who also showed up in Mulholland Dr., is the lieutenant the police assign to the case. This is not a trivial cast by any means. And somehow Maas manages, Uwe Boll-like, to pull the worst possible performance out of each of these characters. Perlman comes off ham-handed, Watts ineffective. And Ironside? This is the guy who played Daryl Revok? Oh, how the mighty have fallen-- at least for this one flick.
Amusing, in a horrifying sort of way. But avoid unless you have absolutely nothing else to do. * ½