The Lift is an occasionally effective film. Director Dick Maas achieves some nicely eerie set-pieces and effective shocks at various intervals. In particular, the last ten minutes as Huub Stapel ascends the shaft to investigate the heart of the elevator contains some intensely wound suspense. (Although oddly, the one thing that Maas never does is use the elevator for a sense of claustrophobia). He also has a sense of black humour and plays visual jokes the film opens on a scream that only turns out to be shrieks of female laughter; or Maas cuts from a decapitation to a cigar cutter or from suffocated party-goers being found in the elevator to a screaming ambulance that turns out to only be a toy of Stapels son; or in the midst of a tense scene at the climax, having a hand creep out of the edge of the frame to cover Huub Stapels mouth, before being revealed to only be Stapels own.
Ultimately though, The Lift is a film that tries hard but fails to make the grade. While there are some effective shocks, most of the film is slow and dully paced. The major problem is that proceedings are dragged out by a slow-moving subplot about Huub Stapels wife (Josine van Dalsum) believing he is having an affair with reporter Willeke van Ammelrooy, which is allowed to take up a substantial part of the film. Yet it is a subplot that also seems ultimately pointless in that the issue is never resolved by the end of the film. The film is also marred by some atrocious dubbing. Probably what makes the last ten minutes work well is that they dispense with the bad dubbing the scenes are entirely without dialogue and allow the audience to concentrate solely on suspense. The scripts talk of molecule-sized protein computer chips is nonsensical, although the idea does unwittingly touch upon the ideas of nanotechnology well before the notion was ever named.
Dick Maas went onto a number of other films. He is probably best known for the comedy Flodder (1986) and sequels. He later conducted an American remake of The Lift as Down/The Shaft (2001) starring James Marshall and Naomi Watts. His other genre films include the acclaimed serial killer thriller Amsterdamned (1988); Saint/Saint Nick (2010) about a murderous Santa Claus; Quiz (2012) where a tv quizshow host has the tables turned on him in a psychological game; and Prey (2016) about a killer lion loose in Amsterdam.
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