Short films fascinate me. Others see it differently. Some believe those who make shorts come in two varieties, those who are practicing or learning the craft of film making to go on to bigger and longer productions, and those who think their talent limits them to only creating short pieces. Of course, any self-respecting moviegoer knows that art can sometimes be quick, and in it’s briefness, infinitely more effective.
Vincenzo Natali, widely known throughout the genre community as the man who “wowed” us with his mind-bending film Cube, made Elevated in 1997, the same year Cube was released . It was his first short, but you wouldn’t know that by watching it. The piece works simply by conjuring two emotions almost universal to the human condition as being terrifying things, claustrophobia and uncertainty.
The story focuses on three people, Ben, Ellen and Hank being trapped in an elevator, with the possibility of something waiting outside of it to kill them. Almost the entire work is shot in the elevator, which would incredibly boring to watch for 20 minutes had it not been for some very good acting.
Ellen is the main focus though, as we the viewer just relate immediately to her position. The great thing about the acting here is it isn’t amazing by “academy” standards, but instead it’s believable and downright realistic. It feels like some of the closest portrayals of how actual real-life people would react to being trapped in a box, not knowing if leaving it will be suicide, or if help is ever coming if they stay. There’s no stupid typical horror movie mistakes, no improbably heroic behavior, just fear and anxiety being beaten into the characters and the audience collectively.
The ending is the only area where you might feel let down, and that’s really a personal choice you will make subconsciously. This short is all about the “build”, and the payoff may not be exactly what your expecting, or you may, like I did, find it ballsy and automatically want to see more. It’s easy to see how the same creative mind that brought us Elevated brought us Cube, and its my sincerest hope that Mr. Natali is heard from again considering that horror hasn’t seen a good “psychological” director in quite some time.
And I haven’t even mentioned the best thing about this yet. It’s viewable on youtube for free.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsjPD4wDmeY = PART 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzCPj2mZJJo = PART 2
Take 20 minutes out of your day, and see if this doesn’t box you in a little.