The Shaft (2001) Movie Review

The Shaft (2001)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: James Marshall, Naomi Watts, Eric Thal, Michael Ironside, Edward Hermann
Director: Dick Maas
Release Date: 11 May 2001
Language: English
Length: 111 minutes
Movie Rating: R
View Format: TV
My Rating: 1.5/5 stars


“A dangerous, secret presence that seems to mysteriously inhabit an elevator in New York City’s Millennium building is killing off passengers – and the death toll keeps rising. When a mechanic (James Marshall) and a reporter (Naomi Watts) go to investigate, they must battle a vicious enemy and discover a secret that could add them to the casualty list. Dan Hedaya, Michael Ironside, Ron Perlman and Eric Thal co-star.” —


So this horror movie should have been something that you pull out late at night and enjoy getting creeped out with your friends. Well, I watched this late at night and, not only was I not really creeped out, I was a bit bored. There is a huge body count in this movie and plenty of headless corpses with arterial blood spray shooting out. The plastic-body-making company did a decent job creating the corpses, but I just did not found myself engaged or caring about what was going to happen. All of the victims on the elevator are random residents and/or workers in the Millennium building so you only get to see them for a few minutes. The director tried to give you a hint of backstory before he killed them off, but most of them were portrayed as pretty bad people so, of course, you didn’t care if they died. Well, I cared, but I didn’t know them and so I didn’t care as much as a I guess I should have.

The owners of the building are stupid, as usual, as they refuse to consider shutting down the elevators or taking any safety precautions to keep others from dying. The elevator repair company kept sending out the same guys to check on the same elevator and, of course, they never found anything. Wouldn’t you ask for a different crew or try a different company? I mean, I’m just sayin’ here. The 2 leads, played by James Marshall and Naomi Watts, were throw-away characters that just kind of took up space for me. They tried to set them up as real people, but they were so 2-dimensional that they were more like notes on a script about what the character would be like rather than something real.

The story is simple, of course, as this is a horror movie. Naturally, no one links all of the pieces together except a nosy reporter and a lowly elevator repairman. Naturally the thing killing people is something developed in a top-secret laboratory and is really far-fetched and involves military research and conspiracies between many people to keep it quiet. I also was confused at the setting. When the movie first started, I could not figure out if we were in the present day or in the 1920s. There is a weird combination of the 2 as the Millennium building has a retro theme, but some of the workers and businessmen were dressed retro, too. It was weird and the 2 were not a good combination. With a far-fetched plot, uninteresting characters and no good scares, this movie was a flop for me.


This movie contains a lot of bodies and people die in gruesome ways (decapitation, hanging, falling down an elevator shaft, etc.). There is a lot of strong language, as well, but it was bleeped out as I watched it on TV. There are some sensual scenes, but it is more along the lines of groping and the like rather than actual sex scenes. Recommended for viewers ages 18 and up.

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Filed under Horror Movies

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