The latest addition to Hulu’s anthology holiday-themed horror movie series Into the Dark, “Down” is a film with an ambitious premise. However, it wastes that premise and the promise of the first scenes by quickly devolving into some sex-driven story of violence and blood.
The film follows a pair of people who work in the same building as they get stuck in an elevator over a long Valentine’s Day weekend. The premise intrigued me, as there have been some really artistic films that only take place in one room. “Down,” however, is not one of them.
The first few scenes were actually decent and held true to the film’s promise of a one room story. They focused on the interactions between the two coworkers as they came to grips with their situation and found ways to pass the time. The dialogue of these early scenes was well written, and the actors delivered it well.
The turn comes rather suddenly, as thoughtful discussion between the two trapped parties quickly becomes a sex-fest. Shortly after, it is revealed that one of the two people may have had sinister intentions all along, and the movie rapidly devolves into what was clearly meant to be a suspenseful fight for survival. The lights in the elevator the two are trapped in inexplicably turn from white to red, marking the transition from a movie that uses its limited setting to explore its characters to a movie that all but abandons its setting and character development in favor of painting the walls with copious amounts of splattered blood.
From there, nothing of interest happens. The film progresses just as you’d think it would, with violence and shouting and a desperate escape from the elevator and an extremely stupid ending involving fire. Nothing beyond the first twenty minutes or so is really worth watching.
The camerawork actually was marginally impressive, especially at the beginning. The film makes innovative use of security camera feeds and camera position within the elevator to help tell the story, and scenes are interspersed with dramatic shots of the city skyline as lightning flashes across the dark sky. Despite the story taking place over several days’ time, the sun is never shown. That creative choice contributed to the overall feel of the film.
All things considered, the actors did a pretty good job with the script they were given. They were both much more convincing at the beginning when they had actual lines to deliver and much less so at the end when the film had become a screaming bloodbath.
In the end, the movie’s ambitious premise proved too much for it. The film’s transition away from the closed room format also marked its transition away from interesting character development and anything else worthwhile. It started off stronger than I anticipated, but it didn’t take long to conform to my low expectations. The good news for this film is that is was better than Into the Dark’s earlier “Flesh and Blood,” which I reviewed last year. The bad news is it’s worse than a lot of other movies. I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time on this one.
Keagan Miller is a psychology junior and a columnist for The Battalion.