“Lift” movie review: Kavin stars in watered down horror movie that tries to say too much

There’s a bit of comedy, romance, and a seemingly passionate outcry against business that denies its overall impact.

There are a few promising moments in Vineeth Varaprasad’s debut film, Elevator. The first is the beginning. We see a close-up of a radio set, which reads the weather forecast. In the following shot, we see a body falling through a roof. After starting with this shake, the film immediately slows down, stomps and winds around establishing the characters and their surroundings. About half an hour later, Elevator seems to be working again (pardon the pun) when its protagonist, Guru (played by Kavin), is trapped in a haunted elevator. For some shots, he tries to evoke a claustrophobic thrill. A man trapped in a small space with a supernatural entity, his cries for help inaudible, his thoughts in panic. By the time you start to wonder if the movie fits into the survival horror zone like Extraterrestrial, the elevator somehow opens, releasing all the tension. And, Elevator resumes its meanders.

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Elevator seems confused with what he wants to be. Disney + Hotstar (the OTT platform that released the movie) calls it horror. But there’s a bit of comedy, romance, and a seemingly passionate outcry against business – all diluting the genre. And this is the case with most Tamil horror movies. They try to evoke contrasting emotions at discordant intervals. It’s like walking through one of those carnival horror houses and stopping at random intervals to watch Vadivelu’s comedy.

Elevator

  • Director: Vineeth Varaprasad
  • Actors: Kavin, Amritha, Gayathri Reddy, Kiran and others
  • Storyline: Two coworkers unwittingly find themselves trapped in their office with a haunted elevator
  • Run Time: 134 minutes

Vignarajan’s Andhagharaam is the only pure and recent horror that I can remember. This movie, despite its other issues, had an always dark mood, which worked out well. Plus, his characters were more relatable than Elevator‘s. Its protagonist, Vinod (Arjun Das), for example, is shaken and traumatized when he encounters a paranormal phenomenon. And that’s how he is throughout the film. Guru and Harini (Amritha), Elevatorthe protagonists of, are also afraid. But several moments in the film trivialize the mortal danger in which they find themselves. For example, Harini said to Guru at one point: “A kooda deal panradhukku andha pei oda deal panradhe mel (Better to take care of the ghost than you). Guru sings the birthday song for Harini, lighting his lighter. It’s hard to believe these are people who watched a ghost-controlled elevator; a man cutting his throat with a letter opener, and the news of their deaths on television.

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It is also difficult to grasp how minds work (yes, there are two!). They can operate the elevator, make photocopies, unplug phones and create an illusion of Penrose stairs. But they let certain devices, like the torch, work properly. Of course, there must be a suspension of disbelief. But there also has to be consistency within the film, right? It is difficult to understand the intentions of the spirits. You end up knowing that they have something to show one of the protagonists. But … they also try to kill them (?).

Humans in Elevator behave more strangely than spirits. When Guru first meets Harini, she asks him to click on a photo. He picks up his phone, pretends to click on a photo, and intentionally drops the phone into an aquarium … for no apparent reason. He looks like a jerk. And, that, in a way, makes Harini have a crush on him. Later, when Harini reveals his attraction, he says he’s not interested. He tells her that he can call her “akka” (sister); Harini slaps him and says, “Girls get angry when called ‘sister’ just as boys get angry when called ‘brother’.

Apart from the aforementioned questions, I have one more, on the title of the film; why call him Elevator when the whole office is haunted? Considering the simple lines and the absurd scenarios that continue to unfold there, Office could have been a better title.

Lift is currently streaming on Disney + Hotstar


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