9 people stuck on an elevator one has a ticking bomb - the other 8 will do absolutely anything to survive. The bomb cannot be defused. There is no escape and no promise of rescue. The unthinkable becomes the only reasonable solution. In a suspense thriller, both classic and contemporary, the passengers on Elevator are squeezed so tightly by fear and panic, the only possible result is horror. With minutes to live, there is no time for civilized morals. Nine sophisticated, Wall Street party-goers reveal the real people behind the facade.
ELEVATOR, features 9 individuals who have come to enjoy a cocktail party. Among them; a security guard, a TV reporter, 2 bond traders, a pregnant office worker a widower, the building's owner himself, and his young granddaughter. But unfortunately, when all pack into one of the building's elevators, it stalls on the 49th floor. They call for assistance, but after some time, it never comes, leaving them virtually helpless. While they wait it out, personalities emerge, tensions, flair, and secrets erupt. One of those secrets, just so happens to be that one of these individuals is wearing a bomb. This of course, puts everyone on edge once the word gets out. With time ticking away, and seemingly no escape, these individuals must find a way out...if there is one!
ELEVATOR from Swedish Director, Stig Svendsen, is one film that came as a surprise to me. Before going into it, I knew very little about it, other than, that a friend on Facebook posted about it. Because of this, I knew that the plot involved a bomb of sorts, but beyond that - nothing. So with this is mind, it made me happy that, after the film and it's characters get settled in, the film felt really at home with, and comfortable for a viewer familiar with Hitchcock, and '70s disaster/terror flicks.
Yes, like films, such as, LIFE BOAT, THE TOWERING INFERNO, and HIJACKED, just to name a few, ELEVATOR summons up maximum intensity, despite it's simplistic form. It has all of the classic ingredients, the one word title(which many films of this type in the past have had). the ensemble cast, and a confining setting. Many may look at this film and wonder, just how much can be done with an ensemble cast of 9, in a space as small as an elevator? Well you're answer would be..."quite enough", and ELEVATOR is one to prove it! ELEVATOR does a fantastic job of setting up its story. Standing in an elevator with multiple people can be stressful enough. But imagine being packed in there with 8 other individuals, over the elevator's maximum capacity and you're stuck on the 49th floor. Oh, and if that's not enough, one of these people has a bomb, set to go off, and there's seemingly no escape from the elevator! The proceedings are intense, and the actions by the film's cast are unpredictable. With the clock ticking down, we know that these desperate people will have to pull out all of the stops, and resort to something, but what?
This is part of the intrigue that ELEVATOR brings to the viewer. Through out the film, things are kept pretty tight-lipped. so to speak, as the film divulges it's information, little by little, much in the way a Hitchcock film would. The characters are built up slowly, but it is during such time, that they have a chance to stick into the minds of viewers. While the film doesn't tell us too much by the way of details about each, over the course of the film, we learn things, for instance, about their professions, as well as their particular personalities. The film builds for us, nine, very different people, ranging from seemingly sweet and innocent, to the rich and cocky, the characters, differ, but are interesting, which in the end, has us wondering how this group will be able to have a civil conversation, let alone, hatch an escape plan! To my surprise, the film as a whole works, and works well. The writers of the film's script are able to make a rather catastrophic situation, into something interesting and enjoyable to watch, through it's characters, pacing, and overall element of surprise. With this one, you're not quite sure what will occur, and when it mounts its tension, the tension is genuine.
Now to what seems to be the film's focal point(at least initially) - just which of the 9 people is it that is harboring a bomb on the elevator? Well i'm not telling! This is just one of the film's more suspenseful elements, one that came a lot sooner than I had expected. I assumed that like many films, since the bomb is one of it's key elements, that the film would save it for a little later. Instead it introduces the bomb at a little past the film's midway point. This left the film with still a good amount of time left to go. At this point, I wasn't really certain as to what the film was going to do in order to remain as tight as it was at this point. But it was soon clear to me that I had little to worry about, because the film's most suspenseful moments were yet to be seen. News of the armed bomb sets the characters in motion, as they seem to be willing to do anything to escape with there lives. This would be a great time to mention these things(one instance in particular), but for fear that I may say too much, i'll just say that there is one moment in the film, in which the classic disaster film, meets modern day torture horror! This scene is not great because of its gore, it's great because of the characters, and their reactions to it. ELEVATOR is once again, all about its characters, and subsequently pushing them to their limits.
Everyone in the cast does a great job in representing their characters, They all work great as an ensemble in that they keep this thing interesting. Just think, 9 people in a crowded space, things could've been pretty boring, but again, the film is really good through out. A few of the standouts in the cast include Jon Getz(as the owner of the building, and CEO, "Henry Barton), Anita Briem(as "Selina", the pregnant office worker), Shirley Knight(as widower, "Jane Redding") and Joey Slotnick(as the comedian). Slotnick was especially funny in this role, but that isn't to sell anyone short. As everyone involved was just great.
To my surprise, ELEVATOR is a great film. With so many films these days trying to emulate the look and feel of films of the past, you often lose sight of which films are actually doing it effectively. I'd have to say that ELEVATOR is one of those films that does get it right. Whether it was aiming to or not, it's a throwback to films that were simple, were often a "movie of the week", and often succeeded on fear and suspense alone.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
I really liked this film, and perhaps the only reason that i'm not rating it any higher than I did, is simply because I wanted it to be a little longer! When I watch an indie Horror/Suspense film, this is the type of film that I always hope to receive. For an independent film, the film looks fantastic. The cinematography by Alain Betrancourt, really sets the mood of ELEVATOR to great effect, I thought it did a nice job of making the elevator feel that more confining. Some may not fully appreciate ELEVATOR when they see it, but I feel that those who are fans of the old school suspense films that this film seems to reference, will surely enjoy it. I recommend.
This film will be released on DVD on August 21, 2012