Sunday 4 October 2009

Dark Floors

During Sarah's brain scan the machine starts to smoke. Her dad throws her in a wheelchair and heads for the lift, a hot nurse in hot pursuit. Joined there by a security guard, a mysterious tramp and an angry businessman, they emerge into a strangely different hospital, where the clocks have stopped, the people have disappeared, and hulking monsters are on the prowl.

Dark Floors is a Finnish film, but British and American actors were imported to play the lead roles, showing a level of commercial canniness that's evident throughout the production. The budget is clearly small, but the hospital setting lets them stretch it a long way, with sets redressed as the protagonists descend from each level to the next. Like everything else about this film, the acting's generally rather better than you'd expect in a straight-to-DVD horror film.

The monsters are used sparingly to good effect. There are a fair few scares, and some surprisingly clever ideas. Huge chunks of Silent Hill and Hellraiser are appropriated, but put to good use. Anyone who got as far as Hellraiser V or VI will find plenty to enjoy here. The director should go on to better things.

So why was it a disappointment? Because this is the movie debut of Lordi, heavy metal winners of the Eurovision Song Contest. You remember: the guys (and one oddly attractive girl) dressed as orcs. This should have been an embarrassing turkey, prime MST3K fodder, but damn them, no: they had to go and make a decent movie. If you didn't know Lordi were a band going in, the film wouldn't have given it away.

Eurovision success may have earned the funding for this movie, but everyone involved deserves credit for putting it to such good use: making the first good (non-documentary) movie featuring a band since It Couldn't Happen Here.

Dark Floors, Pete Riski (dir.), Finland.

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