THE SHAFT

AKA

DOWN

HOME REVIEWS FEO'S STUFF FEO AMANTE THEATER SCIENCE MOMENT UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT
FEO FEED BACK?
NEWS?
SUBMISSIONS?
Read:
SUBMISSION
GUIDELINES

MOVIES
FEO AMANTE THEATER
My Short Films
LAST CALL

THE NIGHT MY MONSTER DIED
SCIENCE MOMENT
TOP TEN SCARY MOVIES
UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT
RACIAL CLICHÉ RESPONSE
INTERVIEWS

STORY TIME

COMICS

CONS

HORRIBLE NEWS
Movies Eddie McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
The Shaft aka DOWN
Bookmark and Share
SHOULD YOU?
TIP JAR
THE SHAFT aka DOWN - 2001
USA Release: May 20, 2003
First Floor Features / Barnholtz Entertainment / Artisan Entertainment
Rated: Australia: MAFrance: -12 / Germany, Netherlands: 16 / USA: R

Back in 1983, Writer/Director Dick Mass* released the Horror movie, DE LIFT aka THE LIFT. Thing is, it wasn't that horrifying. Oh sure, there were the usual pop-clique suspects pounding sand up their own self-indulgent egos in various alternative magazines by over-rating the damn boring thing until I was convinced that it was worth traveling to another city; to a state university; to pay the non-student ticket price; to watch that piece of shit. I learned soon after that my choice of reading material at that time was populated by pre-school film critics laboring under the brain water that any movie made in another country (in this case, Norway) is better by default than anything made in their motherland.

Apparently, Dick Maas thought his flick was a turd as well. Nearly 20 years later a much older and presumably wiser Dick decided to remake and release his own film (now made in France). Only this time, he called it DOWN.

The Ring
2002 AND NAOMI WATTS IS IN THE U.S. BLOCKBUSTER, THE RING.

DOWN became THE SHAFT in the U.S. and may never have seen release were it not for the fact that one of the nobody actors in the film became a somebody a year later when she starred in THE RING. That actress was Naomi Watts (CHILDREN OF THE CORN IV, MULHOLLAND DR.) and Artisan films, the US distributor, decided to hack the DVD cover of THE RING right down to some young boy standing in front of the elevator shaft. The boy isn't in the movie, but Artisan hasn't had a hit since they tripped over THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT at Sundance, so they're willing to sell their ass on Broadway for a buck^.

The movie starts out as bad as I expected. Late at night on the observation deck of the "Millennium Building" (think The Empire State) in New York City, two building security guards use the view scope to spy on some sexy shenanigans going on in an another building. The scene is horribly weak thanks to a lame script and Guard Gary playing a Jar Jar Binks role. The scene is only saved by the brief but full frontal nudity of the two women they are watching.

Lightening strikes the building, shaking everyone up, and causes the security monitors to get a funny warp in their video feed. Soon after, merry mishaps occur.

Next we get an introduction to two elevator mechanics on their way to a job. The club fisted introductory exposition between the two of them makes you appreciate the first scene even more by virtue of the nudity.

The Shaft
2003, AND THIS WAS THE ABSOLUTE BEST IDEA THAT ARTISAN COULD THINK OF. THEN THEY WENT UNDER AND WERE BOUGHT OUT BY LIONSGATE.

We eventually get back to the building and another attack by the evil elevator.

Now here's the thing about these kinds of Horror flicks. When it comes to Horror you have two ways to go. One is the Horror that can attack anyone anywhere anytime (TREMORS, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, FINAL DESTINATION). The second, and more popular Horror, is the one that is localized, incapable of leaving its limited environment, and it grows in power by virtue of the fact that either nobody is aware of it, believes in it, or isn't ready to accept that the Horror is that dangerous (JAWS [just stay out of the water], HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL [just stay out of that house], THE EXORCIST [stop playing with that little girl]).

Now out of those options, a haunted elevator has to be the most limited of all. It's not like the entire building is haunted, just the elevator. If you take the stairs, yer safe. Ah, but The Millinneum Building is one of the tallest buildings in New York. Nobody wants to walk up 100+ flights of stairs to go to work every single freaking day: why I'd rather DIE than take the stairs! - and there is work to be done and money to be earned to cover food and home. So to work we must go and I sure hope that damn elevator doesn't murder ME today!

And that's the plot. Television and newspapers report on the elevator killing people everyday. The cops investigate, the elevator company tries to fix the problem, but all to no avail. People die every time they open the elevators up for business.

Are the elevators possessed?

Well, Police detective Lt. McBain (a possible reference to The Simpson's character but played by Dan Hedaya: THE ADDAMS FAMILY, MULHOLLAND DR.) doesn't believe in such things but is willing to believe in terrorists.

Building manager, Milligan (Edward Herrmann: THE LOST BOYS), doesn't know what to believe in, he just wants the deaths to stop. Deadly elevators are bad for business.

Elevator manufacturing owner, Mitchell (Ron Perlman: THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, ALIEN: RESURRECTION, BLADE II, HELLBOY) thinks somebody on his staff is being stupid and he hopes it isn't the new guy, Mark (James Marshall), because he's already gone out on a limb for him once before. Then again, it could be his R&D expert, Gunter Steinberg (Michael Ironside: SCANNERS, TOTAL RECALL, STARSHIP TROOPERS, THE OMEGA CODE, HEAVY METAL 2000). Gunter has a pretty checkered past doesn't he? And besides, he's played by a perennial movie bad guy! What was I thinking to hire a perennial movie bad guy?

It's around halfway through the movie when all of the major character actors are introduced and the movie picks up. Maas tries for stylish lighting and makes good use of the art deco set design. But like 18 years before, Maas has no clue what to write or where to go until he can get the action going. Only when those who have it "figured out" are ready to do actual battle with the elevator, do things finally pick up. The last 40 minutes of the movie almost make up for the crappy first 69. Maas starts pulling out all of the stops and throws in some truly inventive sight gags and shock moments, making you wonder why he didn't go back in his script and make the first pages as good as the last.

THE SHAFT has a really cool ending and for that I begrudgingly give it a just earned 3 Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2004 E.C.McMullen Jr.

THE SHAFT
DVD
The Shaft (2001) on IMDb Bookmark and Share

Return to Movies

E.C. McMullen Jr. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

FEO AMANTE'S HORROR THRILLER Created by:
E.C.MULLEN JR.
COME FOLLOW ME -
AMAZON
BLOG
DEVIANT ART
ECMJR
FACEBOOK
IMDB
PANDORA
ROTTEN TOMATOES
STAGE32
TWITTER
YOUTUBE
ZAZZLE SHOP

 

*
Dick Mass also directed one of the best short films and music videos of all time.
Golden Earring's
TWILIGHT ZONE

^
And now there's no Artisan. They and their inventory have been swallowed alive by Lionsgate.

 

LOVE THIS SITE?
Support it when you buy from

E.C. McMullen Jr.
WILLOW BLUE

Willow Blue
"'Willow Blue' will burrow under your skin and stay there long after you've put the book down."
- Jeffrey Reddick, Creator of
FINAL DESTINATION

PERPETUAL BULLET
Perpetual Bullet Paperback
"'Some People' ... may be the standout story in the book."
- John Grant, Infinityplus

IN OTHER BOOKS
E.C. McMullen Jr.'s

short story
CEDO LOOKED LIKE PEOPLE
in the anthology
FEAR THE REAPER
Fear The Reaper
"This Ray Bradbury-esque is one of the most memorable and one of the more original stories I've read in a long time."
- Amazon Review

HORROR 201: The Silver Scream
PAPERBACK

Horror 201: The Silver Scream
Filmmaker's Guidebook
featuring
RAY BRADBURY,
JOHN CARPENTER,
WES CRAVEN,
TOM HOLLAND,
E.C. McMULLEN Jr.,
ED NAHA,
GEORGE A. ROMERO,
and many more.

Extensively quoted in
Phantasm Exhumed
PHANTASM EXHUMED
The Unauthorized Companion


Robert S. Rhine's
SATAN'S 3-RING CIRCUS OF HELL
Satan's 3-Ring Circus of Hell

Forward by
GAHAN WILSON,
FEO AMANTE.
Featuring comics by
WILLIAM STOUT,
HILARY BARTA,
STEVE BISSETTE,
SPAIN RODRIGUEZ,
FRANK DIETZ,
JIM SMITH,
TONE RODRIGUEZ,
FRANK FORTE,
ERIC PIGORS,
ALEX PARDEE,
MIKE SOSNOWSKI,
OMAHA PEREZ,
DAVID HARTMAN,
D.W. FRYDENDALL,
SHANNON WHEELER,
VINCENT WALLER,
JACOB HAIR,
NENAD GUCUNJA,
STEVEN MANNION,
NORMAN CABRERA,
and more!

ALSO
IN CINEMA
E.C. McMullen Jr.

HEAD PRODUCTION DESIGNER
Mine Games
MINE GAMES
(Starring:
JOSEPH CROSS, ALEX MERAZ, BRIANA EVIGAN)

Dept. head
SPECIAL EFFECTS MAKE-UP
(SFX MUA) and Michael Madsen's stunt double on the movie
A Sierra Nevada Gunfight
A SIERRA NEVADA GUNFIGHT
(Starring:
MICHAEL MADSEN and JOHN SAVAGE).

PRODUCTION DESIGNER
Universal Dead
UNIVERSAL DEAD
(Starring:
DOUG JONES, D.B. SWEENEY, GARY GRAHAM)

ART DIRECTOR
The Crusader THE CRUSADER
(Starring COLIN CUNNINGHAM, GARY GRAHAM)

I will take you home...Feo Amante's Horror Home Page, Feo Amante's Horror Thriller, and feoamante.com are owned and
Copyright 1997 - 2017 by E.C.McMullen Jr.
FAIR USE - PRIVACY POLICY - OWNERSHIP - CONTACT
All images and text belong to E.C.McMullen Jr. unless otherwise noted.
All fiction stories belong to their individual authors.