Monday, November 25, 2019

Seriously: Take the Stairs

In space, no one can hear you scream. -- Alien
There's something wrong with the Davis baby...It's Alive! 
Be afraid. Be very afraid. -- The Fly

Sure, those are GOOD taglines, but do any beat the following:

Take the stairs! Take the stairs! For god's sake, take the stairs! 

I have long been fascinated by1983's The Lift, a Dutch killer elevator flick with a great poster and even better tagline. Now streaming on Shudder, it was finally my chance to see whether it lived up to its hype. 


Quick Plot: A quartet of obnoxiously drunken diners are the last customers to exit a restaurant, slobbering their way into an elevator that immediately tries to suffocate them. The elevator company dispatches its best technician, Felix Adelaar, who sees nothing out of the ordinary.

The next day, that very same elevator claims two fresh victims: an elderly blind man who strolls right into its empty shaft and a night watchman who gets decapitated in glorious dummy fashion. Felix returns with a repairman's vengeance, teaming up with a nosy reporter named Mieke to investigate Deta Liften, the ominous elevator manufacturer apparently working with an experimental technology company. Mieke takes Felix to discuss their theories with a nerdy technology professor, who proceeds to launch into a very long monologue defining computer chips. 

It's as fascinating as it sounds.

For a movie about a killer elevator, The Lift is shockingly dull. It starts off weird in a good way, but gets so messily lifeless as it goes along that it becomes genuinely hard to even pay attention. There's weird entertainment value to get from the snippets of Felix's suburban home life, from his terrible son's antics to his wife's shockingly fast-growing jealousy. Unfortunately, The Lift rather oddly drops that thread entirely so that Felix can focus all of his energy on saving a few building wanderers from the clutches of a possessed elevator.

The bigger problem is that once Felix removes all distractions, so does the film. The final 15 minutes become a one-man show as Felix battles various parts of a machine, making for one very long service call. 

To say I was let down by The Lift is, well, pretty much the best unintended pun I've stumbled upon in quite some time. Perhaps writer/director Dick Maas was too, since he remade his own movie in 2001 with a so-close-to-Mulholland Drive-fame-Naomi Watts and always-close-to-my-heart Michael Ironside. 

That one's not good either. 

High Points
I will never argue with a dummy decapitation, especially when it happens to a character whose last conversation involved bragging about how he contracted so many STDs in the navy that he was now immune to the effects of penicillin 

Low Points
I think I'd rather walk up the 14 flights of stairs so often referenced here than sit through that microchip monologue again

Lessons Learned
It's not easy to find someone who does the heavy clean

Working for the vice squad will make you numb

Girls don't grow chest hair, but they do get lumps (providing they learn how to stop talking at the breakfast table)


I'm glad I finally got to watch The Lift. I just wish I could have enjoyed it more. Or really, at all. As the poster says, take the stairs, take the stairs, because you're really much better off avoiding The Lift. 

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