Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Only now does it occur to me... THE LIFT

Only now does it occur to me... that THE LIFT plays less like a horror movie and more like someone (director Dick Maas) lost a bet.

Allow me to explain: THE LIFT is the tale of an elevator repairman named Felix (Huub Stapel) who matches wits with a killer elevator. But mostly we follow him as he deals with his stagnant marriage, his annoying kids, and the doldrums of driving around a Dutch industrial wasteland in his sad elevator repair truck. Essentially it's 92 minutes of elevator maintenance and modern malaise and 3 minutes of elevator-related mayhem. I think JEANNE DIELMAN has a lower "action to stagnancy" ratio.

I mean, there's a subplot where Felix's wife is trying in vain to save enough bottlecaps to even submit to a "Win a Trip to Hawaii" contest.

One of the most excitingly shot scenes in the movie can be best described as "an Episode of Bowling Alley Melancholy."

It's almost too thrilling. Though I suppose the movie deserves extra points for gifting the world with the tagline "Take the Stairs, Take the Stairs. For God's Sake, Take the Stairs!!"

Essentially, THE LIFT presents itself as a cautionary tale about mankind growing too dependent on elevators, which seems like an odd fight to pick, given the wide range of other potentially disastrous modern technologies. The film acts as if riding an elevator is akin to inventing Skynet, cloning dinosaurs, or splitting the atom.

Hell, the building where the elevator murders take place is called "The Icarus." "You flew too close to the sun, elevator rider, you flew too close to the sun!"

Felix becomes so invested in solving the mystery of the killer elevator that his wife begins to suspect he's having an affair.

Later, he nearly does have an affair when a random elevator journalist shows up and starts hitting on him, probably because she's bored. I mean, she's an elevator journalist. Everybody in the movie is bored. Even the elevator is bored. The Dutch swingers that get trapped inside the elevator are so bored that they start having sex in the lift literally fifteen seconds after it gets stuck.

I'd hate to see 'em in line at the DMV

Technically, the elevator isn't working completely on its own. An evil corporation is involved as well, á la ROBOCOP. Though I'm pretty sure that their motivation is also boredom.


THE LIFT, ladies and gentlemen.

 (P.S.––it was remade by director Dick Maas in 2001 as 'THE SHAFT,' with Naomi Watts, Michael Ironside, Dan Hedaya, and Ron Perlman!)

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