Humor from charcoal gray to pitch black, fine suspense, murders and thrills, and all of it without gratuitous gore combine for a jaunty entertainment in The Lift, director Dick Maas’ first theatrical test, which he passes handsomely.
Background on young (32) Maas is that up to his feature bow his screen medium was the short, which he often crammed with considerable imagination and, typically, black humor. He also has numerous TV drama credits.
Hero is an elevator maintenance man, Felix (Huub Stapel). The anti-hero is the elevator itself – an eccentric, malign, office-building conveyance whose passengers either suffocate, are decapitated by the doors or dumped down the shaft.
With the aid of a femme journalist (Willeke van Ammelrooy) sniffing for a story, the vexed maintenance man (whose life is complicated by a jealous wife) finally gets to the bottom of the mystery. Before he does, thanks to adroit performances and special effects, there are plenty of laughs and thrills.
Maas has a well-developed sense of irony as well as a knack for the unusual sight gag. Film has echoes of Brian De Palma, but at bottom it’s no imitation but an original Maas.