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The Shaft
Reviewed by Jason Myers, © 2003

Format: Movie
By:   Dick Maas (Writer/Director)
Genre:   Building Comes to Life and Kills Hapless People
Released:   May 20, 2003
Review Date:   May 28, 2003
Audience Rating:   R
RevSF Rating:   2/10 (What Is This?)

Given the somewhat shameful history of the "building comes to life and kills hapless people" genre, it's something of a miracle that The Shaft actually manages to lower the bar even further. I mean, if Warwick Davis became a trained member of a Chinese contortionist circus troupe, he still wouldn't be able to limbo under that bar.

(SPOILERS, IF YOU CARE). Yep, it's a killer elevator. The characters in The Shaft bring up and mock so many possible cliched explanations (ghosts, Indian burial grounds, Voodoo) that, when they finally come up with the real explanation, you think they're still kidding. (A mad military scientist who once worked on combining dolphin brains with computer chips has now moved on to working with . . . you guessed it . . . human brains)

The Shaft (starring Naomi Watts) was released in Europe in 2001, and is, I assume, being given a DVD release here to cash in on the success of The Ring. There are also some "these are the big names in the picture, so we only have two or three days to shoot with them" appearances by Ron Perlman and Michael Ironside, and it's got semi-high production values, in a "made for cable" kind of way.

The thing is, the director, Holland native Dick Maas has a good sense of humor. He manages to trap seven (count ëem, seven) pregnant women in an elevator. There's an angry cigarette-puffing German day-care center employee named (of course) Ilsa who yells profanities at the toddler's she's supposed to be nurturing. There's a reporter who's clearly seen Back to the Future a few too many times (she fakes out some army guys by pointing and screaming "Look out! Libyans!"). The movie closes with Aerosmith's "Love in an Elevator."

In one absolutely genius gag, the hero is alone in a dark place. Close-up on his face. A hand comes from off-camera, the scary music swells . . . and the hand, which belongs to the hero, scratches the hero's chin.

These bright spots might have earned The Shaft a higher rating, but they are stretched out over a marathon 109-minute run time, while most similar schlockbusters at least have the decency to run the credits at the hour-and-a-half mark.

Before you buy or rent this, notice the title of the movie. Because that's exactly what you're going to get.


Ooh, let's click on the "Special Features."

"Scene Selections"

"View Trailer"

"Spanish subtitles"

Isn't that special?

Revolution Ratings:

  • The Movie Itself: 2/10
  • The DVD Features: 1/10

Who's the RevSF Film/DVD Editor that's a sex machine to all the chicks? Jason Myers. You're damn right.

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