Rookie director Vineeth Varaprasad’s Lift movie isn’t your usual fear-of-jump festival, filled with paranormal activity and screaming that we now associate with Tamil films. With its premise of a haunted elevator and a deeper subtext, it aims to exceed the low expectations we have of the genre. In a market that is crowded with uninspired and unoriginal horror comedies, Lift feels like a breath of fresh air, mainly because it makes you feel claustrophobic over and over.
We meet Guru (Kavin), a well-dressed young man, who walks into a multi-story office building with only one elevator. It’s his first day at the company’s Chennai office. He was transferred here from Bangalore. The HR office is a single, pretty girl named Harini. It’s a perfect recipe for office romance, but with an asterisk. Guru and Harini share a troubled story. The hero may have acted somewhat mean and arrogant when he met the heroine in the past. But, instead of finding him repulsive, Harini finds herself drawn to Guru. She even professes her feelings for him the same day. If it seems like she’s running out of time, it’s because she is.
The vice president of his company asks Guru to go through a client’s file, which forces him to stay in the office and work late. Everyone leaves, leaving only him at the office. What about building security you ask? Vineeth takes care of them in the story.
Return to Guru. He is alone, finishing his work. And things start to happen and it gets a little bumpy. He packs his bags and leaves the office. He arrives in the basement but cannot find his way. Things are starting to get scary. He quickly realizes that he forgot his phone on the desk. Ah, the nasty bait to get him back into the building? You want him to make a smart choice and decide to pick up his phone tomorrow. But, you know what they say, “A day without a smartphone is a day wasted.” He goes inside and quickly realizes that he will never be able to get out.
In addition, Guru also finds Harini in the office. She fell unconscious in the documents room and someone locked her in. At least there is a silver lining in Guru’s predicament now. Applying Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity to the situation, Guru’s long night at the office must seem shorter given that he is sitting with a pretty girl. It would have been quite a pleasant ordeal without the ghost.
Guru and Harini are now being chased by the ghost through the floors. Will they come out of the building alive or end up in body bags?
– Disney + Hotstar (@DisneyPlusHS) September 30, 2021
The most terrifying idea in the film isn’t the vengeful ghost in the office, but the headquarters itself. Vineeth wants to talk about a toxic work culture that treats employees like commodities and throws them away. The film shows a deep unease in society. Unfortunately, the idea of ââcorporate enslavement only looks like a footnote in a long prologue.
The film would have been more effective if Vineeth had managed to incorporate the sense of the trap of work into the narrative. The building as a corporate trap metaphor should have been established from the start.
Nonetheless, Vineeth manages to create a tense atmosphere and keeps us hooked to the narrative with clever ideas like âthe Penrose Stairsâ. Employees can move up and down indefinitely, but they can never exceed their allotted levels. Or whatever number Guru or Harini presses the elevator, it’s the almighty elevator (read company) that decides, which level they should go to. Guru and Harini have no choice but to obey.
Vineeth also has a good visual style. Towards the climax, it creates a cool moment for Kavin to channel into his inner Vijay.
Elevator is streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar.