Frightfest 2012 – Elevator Review

Nine people trapped in a lift facing death? Is this M. Knight Shyamalan’s Devil? Nope this is Elevator. A low-budget genre flick that does more with its limited resources than Devil ever did. A slow-burning, tense thriller that both knows, and plays with, genre conventions, the film sees nine people – Henry Barton (whose cocktail party they are all attending), his precocious granddaughter, two office executives, a glamorous TV news presenter, a pregnant woman, a nervous pensioner, the evening’s comic entertainer and a bodyguard – trapped in a lift after Barton’s granddaughter presses the emergency stop button as a practical joke on the claustrophobic, and obnoxious, comedian. Only one of the nine has a grudge against the Barton and his investment company and has come to the party armed with a bomb…

OK, so the premise may not be that original, but what raises Elevator above others of its ilk is that it is fully aware of the genre in which it belongs – even referencing Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, the granddaddy of the sub-genre, at one point. The film also makes a great statement on modern news, with glamorous reporter Maureen (Sunny) shooting the incident on her phone to be broadcast live on the nightly news – with shades of “found-footage” flicks as we see the unfolding situation from the perspective of the phone’s cameras lens.
Director Stig Svendsen, making his US directorial debut (and what a debut), balances the claustrophobic in-elevator action with effective scenes of just how isolated the group are, their voices echoing out of the elevator into the darkened lift shaft. Svendsen and writer Marc Rosenberg also have a tremendously dark sense of humour, visible not only in the gleeful way Joey Slotnick’s comedian George and Barton’s granddaughter Madeline (played by twins Amanda and Rachel Pace) torment each other, but also in the more macabre aspects of the films final third act – which I’m not going to spoil for you here.

Much more than just Devil with a bomb, Elevator is a great example of the best of horror – taking a horrific premise and using it as a jumping off point to explore much bigger themes and ideas. In this case not only the characters and their psyches but also racism and racial stereotyping in America post 9/11, and the role of financial corporations and the impact their decisions have on the everyman (shades of the global financial crisis?).

A tense, taut, thriller which blends an oft-told story with great performances, a wry dark sense of humour and some gruesome, yet not overtly graphic, set pieces, Elevator is easily one of the best examples of the (sub) genre yet.

This was a review By Phil At Blogomatic3000 

UK Release Date: 24th & 27th August 2012 (Frightfest)
Director: Stig Svendsen
Cast: Christopher Backus, Anita Briem , John Getz