Shaft [2000]

Naomi Watts had not yet been put through the paces with David Lynch or The Ring when she made this 2001 thriller about an elevator with a malevolent spirit. It's essentially an English-language revamp, by the Dutch director Dick Maas, of his very fun 1983 movie The Lift. Set in pre-9/11 New York, in a fictional 102-floor high-rise, it's yet another lesson in why man should never tamper with combining computer chips and human tissue. Unfortunately, this lesson is pretty dull, cramped by stilted dialogue and a plodding pace. There's one great action sequence with an elevator car racing upward as its floor drops out, and Dan Hedaya, Ron Perlman, and Michael Ironside lend their indelible mugs for some character-actor juice. Watts provides a bit of playfulness, but it would take Mulholland Drive to unlock the more compelling part of her personality. The Shaft finds her still on the ground floor. --Robert Horton

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