Astute horror scholars will no doubt recall (with no small sense of affection) the truly absurd sub-sub-genre known as "Elevator Horror." There's the 1983 relic known as The Lift, from Dick Maas, who returned in 2001 with a similar flick called The Shaft (aka Down); a few years back we got a fairly effective "elevator occult" exploit known simply as Devil, and there are some choice moments of elevator horror found in flicks like The Shining, Final Destination 2, and Damien: The Omen Part 2. Given the elevator's small size and global proliferation, it can serve as a pretty cool setting for a scary scene or two. But a whole film? Probably not.
Those are the nerdly things I was thinking about as I settled in for the thriller known simply (or simplistically) as Elevator. Helmed by Stig Svendsen and penned by producer Marc Rosenberg, Elevator is more of a paranoia thriller than any sort of horror film, which is fine, but the film is also dull to look at, grating to listen to, and ultimately rather loud, ugly, and pointless. A half-baked concoction of broad stereotypes, aimless screenwriting, and vacant performances do little to alleviate the tedium of this one-location headache, but here's what counts as the plot:
There's a very swanky, invite-only party in the penthouse of a (failing) investment firm, but one elevator gets stuck on the way up to the festivities. On board this elevator are nine people. Not all of them matter, but you will find a reporter, a little girl, a security guard, a horrible comedian, a pregnant woman, and (aha) the CEO of the (failing) investment firm. Last but not least is a freaky old lady who has a bomb strapped to her belly. She offers a woefully obvious sob story, promptly drops dead of a heart attack, and leaves a ticking bomb strapped to her unpleasant corpse. That leaves eight people to whine, fight, bicker, and bitch as the bomb ticks down. Then nothing happens. A lot of ugly dialogue about terrorists, Jews, immoral investment firms, social classes, entitlement, blah, blah blah. At one point a guy gets his arm chopped off and everyone gets sprayed with blood, and that does prove a welcome respite from the spittle-laden diatribes.
And to say that Elevator has an unsatisfying finale would be an understatement on par with "rain is often wet." The flick just stops arbitrarily, with nary a backwards glance towards the surviving characters, why they mattered, or (most of all) why we should even give a crap about everything we just sat through. Aside from a few performances that actually work (John Getz and Joey Slotnick are both enjoyably obnoxious, although in different ways), there's nothing about Elevator that will remain in your memory banks for longer than fifteen minutes -- except maybe the irritation of having wasted 90 minutes on it.