The Shaft

The Shaft (2000)
Artisan Entertainment
Cast: Naomi Watts, Michael Ironside, James Marshall

If the name ’The Shaft’ doesn’t ring a bell in your head, maybe the name ’Down’ will, because that is the name under which this movie was originally released in 2000. Why the name change is anyone’s guess. Artisan is evidently trying to cash in on the popularity of the recent release of ’The Ring,’ which also features Naomi Watts in the lead in a very cheap way.

’The Shaft’ is a story about a haunted elevator in a 102-story skyscraper. What starts out looking like a regular malfunction soon turns into a calculated blood bath in which the elevator is killing many of New York’s upper crust, until the government is sealing off the building, trying to salvage the problem.

’The Shaft’ is in many ways highly reminiscent to the 1983 horror flick ’The Lift,’ that many of you may remember. It has its moments and ups, but sadly it also some downs, some plot inconsistencies and a few downs.

Artisan Home Entertainment features the movie in a 1.33:1 fullframe aspect ratio. Since the movie was originally shot in a 2.35:1 ratio, it is a very dubious choice and the picture feels very cramped and cropped at times. The transfer is generally good with good detail and color reproduction, as well as balanced blacks. The compression is without flaws, also, leaving all the detail intact.

The audio on the disc is presented in a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track, as well as a Dolby Stereo format. The tracks are well produced and are clear throughout. Dialogues are well integrated, though drowned out occasionally be the sound effects.

The DVD features no extras at all.

I am not fond of Artisan’s misleading attempt to sell ’The Shaft’ as – and I quote the package – a new horror-thriller when it is in fact older than ’The Ring,’ the movie the studio is trying to piggy-pack this release on. I am also not fond of the fullframe presentation and would recommend this release only to viewers who are really starving for some horror fare, no matter what.