Claudia is a young woman in a hurry to return to the hospital bedside of her dying grandmother. Tommy is a young punk on his way to elope with his girlfriend Francesca and rescue her from the physical abuse by her drunken father. Karl is a husband and father with guilty secrets that must be erased from his apartment before his wife and daughter get there. All three, in other words, have an urgent need to be somewhere else. But all three are trapped in an elevator one holiday weekend in a deserted building
What if you were trapped in an elevator with a serial killer?
An intense thriller that excels at clever misdirection. Our film which mostly feels like a thriller reveals itself as horror film in the 2nd act. As we have surely seen many movies built on the concept of isolation, I really enjoyed the narrative misdirection that was cleverly fused into the story line.
Please note there are plot spoilers ahead!
Our story begins showing the back lives of 3 individuals. Now as you know from the poster and summary the film centers around 3 people who get trapped in an elevator together. Though that’s where the clever aspects really grab you. As we are introduced to each character with the issues and situations they are going through we get a pretty firm sense of who they are. Or so it seems.
Tommy (Armie Hammer) who suspiciously has bruised knuckles with a bruised body laying next to him, is assumed to be the antagonist of the story. Even the flashback scene of Tommy grabbing the money and jewelry shortly after gives the audience the impression of his role as the deviant one of the group. Our doctor Karl (Aidan Gillen) seems mild mannered, is obviously raising his daughter as a single parent and is portrayed as a hardworking individual who takes his medial profession seriously. We are never really given a reason to question this fact, just a firm belief that we have met our character who seems to easily be the directed protagonist.
Other flashbacks reveal Karl as a lonely individual trying to cope with his wife’s suicide. By the time he reaches the elevator we know him to be a wealthy honest man who now lives alone in a high rise apartment.
Claudia (Amber Tamblyn) while we know she is having emotional issues with her grandmother’s illness is both vulnerable and suspicious. From one scene to the next we see her in stress and then riding the bus with blood splatters on here neck While we don’t assume foul play the fact that it hasn’t been cleaned off is troubling non the less.
As worlds meet, they all enter the elevator for different purposes with the intent to deal with the immediacy of the day. The elevators power fails and the vehicle of transport becomes a prison while they await help from repairmen to save the day. Of course it couldn’t be at the worst of times as many who live there are gone, while other spots are simply vacan’t. So the screams of help go unheard by the trapped individuals. Of course we encounter the personalities that we assumed would show in a situation like this. Tommy is the impatience jerk, Karl is the calming, sensible mind and Claudia is the bridge of reason.
Now if it were to play out as we expected the film would simply fall into another “trapped and isolation” film without tension. Though something remarkable happens when Tommy attempts to scale the walls to seek an escape route. He looses grip and the true natures of the occupants take a 180 turn from where they were. The voice of reason Claudia reveals to be hiding food and water vital to the occupants survival, the jerk is injured and we are given the true reveal of what went down prior which is an act of saving his girlfriend from a drunken abusing father. The doctor is now revealed as a sick twisted individual through a change of actions and attitude. Not only a clever move but an intelligent call on the writer’s ability to spin a tale. Directed with great care, we now begin to see where this story has been leading us. All bets are off as a different concept is introduced. Meanwhile the clock is seen ticking away scene by scene in a breakaway title slate which shows us every step of the way that time is passing and hidden agendas are beginning to emerge.
There are scenes within that proves to be disturbing partly because of what they suggest and partly because we see that not is all as it seems Karl becomes the true antagonist that takes the place of previously expectations. Like a light switch we are given a full flashback of horrific details and a changed attitude brought out by he stress of the isolation. The film then gauges on dealing with 2 situations, being trapped and being trapped with a psychotic.
A smart, gripping and intelligent suspense ride combing the tension of isolation and of human nature at its best! Very enjoyable, well written and some nice plot turns.