Dark Floors (2008)
I could stop the review right there, that joke’s probably the most entertaining part of this film, and it’s not even in it.
For our non-European readers, the Eurovision Song Contest is a funny thing: about nine hundred and thirty countries send some nobodies out to represent them, singing forgettable ballads and cheesy love songs in the covert hope that they don’t win and be forced to host this expensive white elephant (is that racist now?) the following year, getting nil points if you’ve done something naughty politically, then watching in disbelief as all the Eastern European all vote for each other yet again and not realise that Britain has the best songs.
Except for 2006. Back then Greece was hosting it, in the days before the country’s economy went tits up and it was forced to live on the streets and give blowjobs to Estonia for spare change. Finland rose up from its eternal vodka haze to kick some ass with their boys Lordi.
For the uninitiated, Llordi is a Finnish hard rock and heavy metal band, formed in 1992 by the band’s lead singer, songwwriter and costume maker Mr Lordi, was known for wearing monster costumes GWAR style and using KISS- and Alice Cooper-style pyrotechnics and theatrics. To this date, they remain the only hard rock band to win the Eurovision Song Contest (but strangely enough not the weirdest-looking ones).
Anyway, Lordi went on, and like their inspiration KISS, went multimedia, producing books, comic books, short films – and one film, DARK FLOORS, which wasn’t a music documentary or concert film, but one which portrayed them as characters in their own right. Anyone remember the 70s TV Movie, KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK, where the band members were quasi-superheroes with mystic amulets that gave them superpowers and they fought Anthony Zerbe and his army of robots? It was dumb, it was goofy, it was nonsensical… and it was entertaining as hell.
DARK FLOORS should have gone this route.
It opens with a young autistic girl named Sarah (Skye Bennett, who had the misfortune of appearing with Steven Seagal in AGAINST THE DARK, my review here), lying in an MRI scanner that catches fire while she’s in it – thanks Obamacare! – while her father Ben (Noah Huntley, the guy on fire in EVEN HORIZON) watches with concern. Jeez, grow a pair, guy, it’s just a little fire! Oh, and I’m assuming that this is a hospital set in some country where patients are strapped in or sedated while getting a CATscan, because such measures would ruin the intention to scan for anomalies in the brain while at a resting state.
Sarah is content to continue drawing nightmarish images on her pad and demanding her red crayon. On the plus side, Skye Bennett looks like an ordinary kid, not a Hollywood mega-cute precocious kid. On the minus side, her constant demands for her fucking crayons grate on my nerves, autism or not.
A nurse, Emily (Dominique McElligott, MOON), tries to convince Ben not to take Sarah out of the hospital, as they haven’t even worked out what is wrong with her (wait, isn’t she autistic? At least, Hollywood Austistic?), but somehow he’s turned off by a hospital whose machines catch fire. Pussy.
Ben wheels Sarah into an elevator, joined by Emily, a black security guard named Rick (Leon Herbert, ALIEN 3), a tramp named Tobias (Ronald Pickup, SUPERNOVA) and the Designated Asshole With a Briefcase named Jon (William Hope, DARK SHADOWS). The elevator opens on the next floor: it’s all dark, dilapidated, and deserted – thanks, Obamacare!
They wander around, asking all the usual questions and making all the usual arguments. The phones don’t work, or when they do they end up just echoing the things they said before. They look outside, and see the entire world frozen, like in one of those shows where somebody has a watch that stops time. And soon, they’re being menaced, first by one of the most unconvincing CGI ghosts you could ever imagine – seriously, a guy in a sheet with cut out eyes would have been more substantial – and then by the presumed members of Lordi, popping up in costume to, uh, growl and hunch and come at them like bored employees in a cheap House of Horrors – thanks, Obamacare!
Soon, the beleaguered disaster movie tropes realise what the audience still awake has realised, that everything happening is connected with little Sarah, and despite Asshole Jon repeatedly demonstrating that he’s a threat to the kid by suggesting that they turn her over to the monsters, her father still leaves her alone with him while he goes off with the nurse. So Jon wheels her down a corridor to Where the Wild Things Are…
To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, DARK FLOORS is both good and original – but the parts that are good are not original, and the parts that are original are not good. Director Pete Riski, who helmed many of Lordi’s music videos, has a sense of style, but is also insanely derivative. Though labelled as a Finnish horror film, there’s nothing here, absolutely nothing, to distinguish it from any of a hundred generic unscary American horror movies.
The appearances by Lordi are fleeting, and a waste of potential (in an online interview, Lordi claimed that the film’s content was notably toned down at the request of financiers, based on the assumption that his band’s success at the Eurovision Song Contest would attract many young viewers.). And it’s a shame, because Lordi’s costumes are pretty decent-looking, and deserve better exposure.
That CGI ghost we see is a joke, reminding me of some of the effects from GHOSTBUSTERS, a movie thirty years old, and one that’s still more frightening in places than what we get here. None of the human characters have anything going for them. But then that’s in keeping with the rest of the movie. The film is the most expensive Finnish horror film ever to be produced, which is about as relevant as saying Johnny Lozada was the best member of Menudo.
The movie is around, here and there; I’m not posting a trailer, in case you watch it and think it might be worthwhile. Buy one of Lordi’s albums instead. Or go find KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK.
Director: Pete Riski
Plot: 1 out of 5 stars
Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Deggsy.