Dark Floors (2008)

DVD Cover (Ghost House Underground)
Genres: Creature Film, Horror, Supernatural Horror
A man emerges with his autistic daughter and three others from a hospital elevator to find themselves trapped in the building with devilish monsters. --IMDb
Pete Riski Pete Riski
Alan Smithee Alan Smithee
William Hope William Hope
Leon Herbert Leon Herbert
Ronald Pickup Ronald Pickup
Philip Bretherton Philip Bretherton
Noah Huntley Noah Huntley

4.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: November 04, 2008
Just a couple of days ago, I reviewed Stuck and mentioned how I originally had high hopes for it, but almost completely lost interest in ever checking it out after seeing the trailer. Tonight, I finally got around to watching Dark Floors, a film that I originally had zero interest in, but going in the opposite direction of the aforementioned Stuck, this was a film that came with a slick trailer that made it look like it would be worth my time. You see, this is a movie that was written by the vocalist of Finnish rock band Lordi, directed by the guy best known for handling Lordi's music videos, and if that wasn't enough to scare you away, it also stars the members of said band as the monsters.

Bands such as GWAR (who, coincidentally, provided a fair deal of "inspiration" for Lordi's costumes) have also made and starred in their own movies, but the difference is that GWAR knew that they were making silly little movies that shouldn't be taken seriously, whereas Lordi set out to make a legit horror classic. This combined with the fact that I personally don't care for Lordi's musical output should have convinced me to leave this one on the shelf, but again, that damned trailer made it look downright excellent... it's just a shame that the film in no way lived up to those promises.

The storyline centers around Ben (Noah Huntley) and his daughter Sarah (Skye Bennett), and we soon discover that little Sarah has something seriously wrong with her (it's never explained, but it appears to be a severe form of autism). The two are basically living in a hospital in an attempt to cure Sarah, but unfortunately for them, the doctor's are clueless and really have no idea what to do with their patient. After the latest failed attempt at finding answers by these doctors, Ben has had enough and decides to load up his daughter in a wheelchair and find another hospital with more capable staff. The two get in the elevator, push the button for the ground floor, and... the power goes out.

However, this is no ordinary power outage, as when the lights come back on and the people inside the elevator step out of it onto the sixth floor, they find that all of the staff and patients who were previously in the hospital have vanished. At this point, Ben meets the other people in the elevator - nurse Emily (Dominique McElligott), the slightly off-kilter Tobias (Ronald Pickup), rent-a-cop Rick (Leon Herbert), and of course, the obligatory asshole in Jon (William Hope) - and soon, they find out that something otherworldly is going on in this hospital that may or may not revolve around Sarah. As they make their way down to the first floor of the hospital, they find that the entire place is slowly plunging further and further into darkness, the walls and everything that they house are slowly decaying, time has become unstable, and most importantly, they soon meet the monsters who will slaughter any humans foolish enough to cross their path.

Just as the look and gimmick of the band seems remarkably similar to that of GWAR, the storyline for Lordi's film seems to have borrowed a page or two from the Silent Hill line of games. You might have picked up traces of that from my synopsis, but if you actually watch the movie, you'll definitely see where I'm coming from with that statement. Now, with that said, I didn't have a huge problem with this; granted, it's ripping off something else to build the general plot, but that doesn't automatically make it a bad movie. The problem is that we're shown an interesting plot with plenty of potential, but the writers just didn't know what to do with it.

To be blunt about it, Dark Floors is just a boring movie. Sure, there's a neat storyline tying everything together... but it's never really explored and only serves to set the scenario of "people are in an abandoned hospital, spooky shit happens, and there's monsters running around." Yes, there are some great monster costumes... but we rarely get to seem them (and I mean that statement in more ways that one). The vast majority of the running time consists of the characters going from floor to floor and room to room asking each other "What's going on?" and various forms of that same damned question. Look, I get that these people have found themselves in a bizarre situation here, so when they ask that question at the beginning, it's perfectly acceptable. When they're still asking it twenty minutes later, it gets a little old. When they're still asking it towards the end of the movie and nothing much else is going on, the film becomes an exercise in endurance.

This wouldn't have been so bad if there had actually been more emphasis on the monsters, or a couple more kills at the very least. Sadly, that's not how it worked out as each band member (excuse me, monster) had one scene where they showed up, walked around, and then disappeared for the remainder of the film. A few of them did manage to score themselves a kill, but most did nothing more than basically wave at the camera and make their best "mean face."

Taking my frustrations with the film one step further is the fact that after the first thirty minutes or so, you just can't see a damned thing. Remember what I said up above about how "the entire place is slowly plunging further and further into darkness"? That works as a concept, but the filmmakers decided to get downright literal with it. The result is scene after scene where you find yourself wondering "Is that the hero or the monster? Did he die? Who is that? What's going on?" I could understand this if the filmmakers were trying to conceal some goofy special effects or cover up some lackluster costumes, but considering that the film came with a five million dollar budget and the effects were minimal at best, this shouldn't have been an issue. I've also seen Lordi outside of this film and they have great costumes even when they're performing live on stage, so again, there shouldn't have been any reason to hide everything under a blanket of darkness.

I haven't said much positive about the film thus far in this review, but it did have a few bright spots. The monsters looked great when we could actually see them and I enjoyed the way that time was manipulated in this hospital (I won't spoil it here, but it's very neat), but the overall film just didn't do much for me. Lordi fans will likely enjoy this one more than I did, but those of you checking it out solely for the horror elements will probably walk away disappointed at best. 4/10.
Crispy #1: Crispy - added 11/08/2008, 03:40 AM
I actually really like Lordi. I'm almost obligated to hunt this one down now. I usually agree with Chad more often than not with his reviews though, so I can't say I have high hopes for this.
Crispy #2: Crispy - added 11/09/2008, 12:00 PM
Well, never mind. I actually dug this, and I don't think the fact that I'm a Lordi fan really entered into it. It's just one of cheesy little monster movie that you find at Blockbuster that aren't even good enough for the five dollar bin; and it's great in that regard. I'll give you that's a bit slow, but I don't see any merit in your other two complaints. I'm not entirely sure where you got the idea that the dialog is "what's going on" over and over, I sure didn't get that. Also, the lighting could have been brought up a smidge, it was nowhere near as bad as you say it was; at no point did I really have trouble seeing who was who and what was going on.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #3: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 11/19/2008, 08:20 PM
I fully agree with the review. In addition, the acting was real crummy, and I was able to predict the underwhelming plot twist very early.
BuryMeAlive #4: BuryMeAlive - added 01/23/2011, 05:26 PM
I actually enjoyed this one as well, it's suspenseful and creepy. And I had no problem with the lightning, acting or the characters wondering 'what is going on'...
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