• Down

    Released by: Blue Underground
    Released on: October 31st, 2017.
    Director: Dick Maas
    Cast: James Marshall, Naomi Watts, Eric Thal, Michael Ironside, Edward Herrmann
    Year: 2001
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    The Movie:

    It’s not often that a director remakes his own film, but that’s exactly what happened when Dutch filmmaker Dick Maas remade his 1983 film The Lift for American audiences as Down (also released as The Shaft).

    The film is set in New York City in and around the Millennium Building, an upper crust office building that caters to the rich. Things get odd when the express elevator starts acting up. To fix whatever it is that’s wrong with the thing, elevator mechanic Mark Newman (James Marshall) is sent out to make the repair. As he starts poking around and trying to sort it all out, he runs into some unexpected difficulties – there are some in the building that would prefer he leave things well enough alone.

    When a blind man falls to his death in the elevator shaft and a security guard has his head chopped off when the doors close over his neck, it’s obvious that something is very wrong indeed. The local cops make the scene but can’t seem to come up with much of anything. Mark, however, is bound and determined to get to the bottom of this and soon enough he’s got a pretty reporter named Jennifer Evans (Naomi Watts) alongside him. As they work together to solve the mystery and the body count rises the powers that be fear terrorism may be at play – the building gets sealed off but Mark won’t be deterred as he makes his way into the bowels of the building to put a stop to this evil once and for all!

    The story doesn’t differ from The Lift much at all but Maas does a good enough job changing the setting and the set pieces enough to keep things interesting even if you’ve already seen that earlier film. It’s interesting to see James Marshall and Naomi Watts here (both often associated with David Lynch – they’d both appear in the recent Twin Peaks: The Return and obviously Marshall played a big role in the original run). They do fine work, Watts in particular, and they’ve got enough chemistry together to pull it off.

    Production values are decent. The score sounds good, the murder set pieces are gory enough to have the right amount of impact, the pacing is solid and the cinematography is nice. The Lift gets bonus points for coming first and therefore being more original but as far as remakes go, this is a good one.


    The Lift arrives on Blu-ray from Blue Underground on a 50GB disc framed at 2.24.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Taken from a new 2k master approved by Dick Maas himself, the image quality is excellent. There are no noticeable compression problems here. The image is clean, almost pristine, but it is free of obvious noise reduction and presents fine grain without problems. The black levels are good, skin tones look fine and color reproduction is nice. Fine detail is typically very strong and frequently very impressive, as is depth and texture.

    Audio options are provided in English and French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and in English and French Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with removable subtitles provided in English SDH and Spanish. The English 5.1 track offers up a wide sound space and spreads out the effects work and the score rather well. There’s plenty of surround activity here and the track benefits from good balance throughout.

    Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Dick Maas and Stunt Coordinator Willem de Beukelaer and it’s a good one. These two have plenty of stories to share about the making of the film and they do so with enthusiasm aplenty. Maas in particular talks about the peculiarities of remaking his own film but also about casting the picture, the locations and more. Willem de Beukelaer has a bit less to say but when he chimes in he talks about his work coordinating the stunts and what we involved in all of that.

    As far as the featurettes go, we get a nine minute archival piece entitled The Making Of Down that is made up of some insight into the effects set pieces including the film’s use of computer technology to get things done. Not enough? There’s two hours and twenty minutes of raw behind-the-scenes footage included here as well. This gives us a fly-on-the-wall look at the shoot as it was happening in New York City and it gives us some insight into Maas’ directing style, his interactions with his cast and how some of those cast members react to the material as they’re working on it.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is a theatrical trailer for the feature, a few teaser trailers, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD version of the movie with identical supplements (sans the BTS footage). Included in the case with the disc is an insert booklet containing an essay on the film written by Mike Gingold.

    The Final Word:

    Down isn’t quite as good as Maas’ earlier film The Lift, but it’s still an interesting, quirky and unusual horror movie made all the better thanks to a strong cast and some slick direction. Blue Underground’s Blu-ray/DVD combo pack release presents the film in beautiful shape with solid audio and a nice array of extra features.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!