Ghost House Underground: Dark Floors (US - DVD)
Gabe checks out a horror movie staring members of a Finnish shock rock group.
After a particularly unsuccessful MRI Scan, and a dose of experimental medication a red crayon loving, little autistic girl and her father are on their way out of a haunted hospital when something goes wrong. After a big, scary sound, their elevator stops on a mysteriously empty floor. The duo, along with a pretty nurse, an anxious visitor, and a creepy patient, explore their new environment only to find themselves menaced by monsters from a different world (played by members of metal band Lordi).
Despite some primo production values, decent effects, and competent performances, Dark Floors is an almost dully uninvolving horror movie experience. The plot pace is glacial, repetitive, and comes to a rather unsurprising conclusion. The basic formula consists of characters running from monsters, zombies, and/or ghosts into safe rooms in the haunted hospital, unravelling a sliver of plot, and repeating. The characters are pretty well rounded individuals, but their plight is so generic and strangely unthreatening that the best laid plans of suspense and shock play mostly as playful special effects show-offery. The film ends with more annoyingly loose ends surely meant to makes us think about the thinly layered narrative, but it simply strikes me as an impossibly cryptic bit of horror hobnobery.
So for most of us Dark Floors is a skip, or some kind of half-assed ‘film fest’ extra, but there are others that will positively love the film. Why would someone get excited about an unoriginal and pretty un-entertaining Finnish horror filmed in English? One word—Lordi. Okay, I hadn’t heard of Finnish shock metal group Lordi either, but I’m assured they have their fans, and that their fans are rabid. From what I can best gather Lordi is sort of the modern Nordic equivalent of Gwar—a group of Kiss loving art school kids that decided to make a band/performance art group. Unfortunately for this guy who never heard of this band, the film’s music is symphonically based, and written by some guy named Ville Riipa. I’m only given a small taste of the band’s surprisingly poppy music during the end credits.
I can accuse Dark Floors of being a touch uninvolving, but I can’t call it an ugly film. In fact, it looks better than a whole lot of major theatrical horror releases. The film loves its bleach bypass look. The hospital corridors are starkly white without too much grain, and stand in extremely high contrast to the blacks that live within them. Very dark shades are chosen for costumes, props, even blood, and despite a little bit of edge enhancement the transfer makes out pretty nicely. Details are consistent and reasonably sharp for standard definition, especially in pale skin tones and creepy, deteriorating set walls.
The solo Dolby Digital 5.1 track (all in English, no dubbing, despite the country of origin) does not disappoint. The audio effects are generally aggressive the entire runtime, even when their tone settles into drama. There’s one bit of ace audio work around the twenty two minute mark where all the electronics of the hospital start turning on, starting with the television, radio and phones, which each settle into their own channel before a sort of arbitrary bass track starts to sneak onto the track. Everything builds to a reasonably effective screaming ghost revel. Ville Riipa’s score, though not giving me a taste of the band’s abilities, is surprisingly memorable and large without overstepping the rest of the film’s general modesty. The score is occasionally mixed a little too loudly among the rest of the elements, but dialogue is always centred and clear enough to discern.
Dark Floors stands up with Dance of the Dead as one of the only discs in this Ghost House Underground collection featuring decent extras. Things begin with a commentary track featuring director Pete Riski and Lordi front man, Mr. Lordi. The track isn’t as much fun as I’d hoped, as Mr. Lordi hasn’t really planned for the event, and besides some insight into the scripting process, mostly just offers congrats here and there. Riski is so soft spoken I couldn’t hear him half the time, but he does offer some interesting behind the scenes information.
My favourite extras are the two Lordi Music Videos: ‘Would You Love a Monsterman’ and ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’. I was initially expecting something super heavy out of the band, considering their gory costumes and Finland’s reputation for brutal metal, but Lordi really is an extension of Kiss, and thusly pretty poppy, which is totally cool by me. The videos are pretty good too, with decent production values and narratives. The rest of the disc is filled out with a featurette concerning the world premiere press event (mostly in English) and concert (running about twenty three minutes), a general behind the scenes featurette (reasonably informative, eleven minutes), and trailers.
Dark Floors should be a plain bad movie, but it looks really good for its budget, and features a few very impressive special effects. There’s nothing original, or even particularly interesting about the script, but the actors mostly bring their characters to life, and director Pete Riski has a great eye for ghostly and grimy imagery. The disc looks pretty good, and features a few fun music videos from the featured shock rock band Lordi. Not a good movie, but one of the better entries in the Ghost House Underground collection.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 21st October 2008
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: Director/Writer Commentary, Music Videos, Behind the Scenes,
Easter Egg: No
Director: Pete Riski
Cast: William Hope, Ronald Pickup, Leon Herbert, Noah Huntley, Skye Bennett
Length: 86 minutes
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