Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


THE SHAFT (aka Down/2001). Written and directed by Dick Maas.

Writer/director Dick Maas has taken his 1983 dutch thriller The Lift and remade it for the frat boy generation. The premise of the film has one of the elevators in New York's Millennium building acting funny, causing mayhem and then hideous deaths. A repairman, Mark (James Marshall) and a reporter, Jennifer (Naomi Watts) investigate the weird goings-on. More familiar faces in the cast include Dan Hedaya, Ron Perlman, Michael Ironside (as a sort of mad scientist), and Ed Herrmann, who lends some distinction to a film that doesn't deserve him. The film does have some interesting concepts, such as the idea of computer chips reproducing themselves and becoming, in essence, a living thing, but otherwise the script is fashioned not for logic but for coming up with increasingly gross sequences. One scene, when the floor of a high-rise elevator drops out, spilling the passengers into space, is horrifying. The movie will hold your attention, but the characters are unlikable (no one ever expresses the slightest sympathy for all of the innocent victims) and the film is distinctly unpleasant.

Verdict: Slick and cold-blooded moron movie. **1/2.

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