Monday, August 20, 2012

DVDebut of the latest confined-space film: Svendsen/Rosenberg's heavy ELEVATOR

Yet another movie in the newly-favored confined-space genre (see Buried, Brake and ATM, though this one is most like 2010's Devil, another -- and better -- elevator film), ELEVATOR does pretty much exactly what you'd expect it to: trap a group of diverse people inside the elevator car and let them go at each other with gusto, because -- uh-oh -- there's also a bomb aboard.

This pretty-good genre movie, written and produced by Marc Rosenberg and directed by Stig Svendsen (shown at left) is set inside a New York hi-rise decorated with a big "B" on the outside of its higher floors because the building belongs to a certain multi-billionaire named Henry Barton (John Getzbelow), whose retirement party is taking place this very evening and is the reason why everyone is here, allowing themselves to be very thoroughly checked over by the special security forces hired for the night.

Of course the big B himself is one of those stuck on the elevator, along with his ultra-brat grand-daughter (played by identical twins Amanda and Rachel Pace), who, in her nasty little way creates most of the havoc we see. Barton is bratty in his own elitist manner, which comes out increasingly as the movie moves ahead.

Others along for the ride include a pregnant-but-dressed-to-kill worker (Anita Briem, above, right), Shirley Knight (center), as a widowed investor in Barton's company (think what Goldman-Sachs did to its lesser investors before and during the financial meltdown, and you'll understand why she's so pissed off), and a Muslim security guard (Waleed Zuaiter, at left, above), who becomes...

the whipping boy of the third-rate Jewish comedian (Joey Slotnik, above, left, with Getz), a last-minute replacement for the entertainer who was supposed to be performing at the party. There are also a gorgeous middle-eastern newscaster (Tehmina Sunny, below, rear, second from left) and her boyfriend (Christopher Backus), who works for Barton's company and has an interesting connection to one of our other passengers. And finally, there's one very overweight Barton employee, well-played by Devin Ratray (below, right).

Though the cast is well-chosen and works hard, and the roles are well-enough differentiated, as a writer Mr. Rosenberg proves only so-so. He never remotely convinces us of why all help is unavailable -- when a lavish party is going on just a few floors up, and people already know that the company President is trapped in one of the elevators. The bomb, when we learn of it, is handled well enough, but other threads go utterly untended. The comedian is badly claustrophobic -- for the first third of the film -- and he never lets us and  the other passengers forget it. Then, for the remainder of the movie, even he seems to have forgotten it.

Still, Elevator provides some nice jolts, a surprise or two, and even some gore along the way. Overall, it's time-waster with enough going for it that you shouldn't feel the need to kick yourself, post-viewing. It hits the street tomorrow, Tuesday, August 21, from Inception Media Group, (why can't this group do something about its impossible-to-access website? Note: I just checked again, 19 months later, and the site is up and running well. Thank you, IMG!) in DVD format only, available for purchase, rental (if Netflix or Blockbuster ever actually deign to purchase a copy or two) and eventually, perhaps, you'll be able to stream it.

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