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Dark Floors is a horror film starring the Finnish hard rock band, Lordi, and features a fairly unknown, mainly British cast. The film opened in limited release to mixed reviews in 2008.
The film comes from the minds of the band’s frontman, Mr. Lordi, and his childhood friend, Pete Riski (who also directed). However, their original vision got toned down exponentially by the production company because, Heaven forbid, it was too gory and bloody in its original form. Another interesting fact about the movie is that it remains, to this day, one of the most expensive films made in Finland (with a budget of $4.3 million).
Dark Floors is actually not the band’s first foray into horror movies. That would be The Kin back in 2004, which coincided with the release of their second album, The Monsterican Dream. The Kin was never released in theatres, only ever being released on a special edition of the album, a limited DVD release, and coupled with a live DVD and compilation. I have also seen The Kin. It was “weird”, to say the least!
Getting back to Dark Floors… I have watched it before as a fan of the band, so I decided I would give it another go from a critical perspective, (forcing my husband to also watch it) and formulate some sort of review whilst I was at it.
The film focuses on the story of a young autistic girl, Sarah. She is being watched over devotedly by her father Ben, played by Noah Huntley from the British soap opera Emmerdale. The film is standard horror film fare, starting in an American-style hospital where Sarah is getting an MRI scan for a mysterious illness. Ben decides he wants to get Sarah out of the hospital, as he doesn’t feel that the staff are doing enough for her. They enter the lift, other cast members already inside. They are followed swiftly by nurse Emily. She tries to talk him out of leaving, when the lift suddenly starts freaking out.
The six of them manage to get out of the lift, finding the hospital deserted. They begin wandering around the corridors, using the expertise of the security guard, Rick, to try to find their way out. Sarah is drawing decidedly ominous pictures in her sketch book the whole time. Each of the drawings happens to emulate what will attack the group next. After a fairly slow start, the first “scare” comes not fifteen minutes into the film, when the motley crew make a grim discovery in the corridors. From there on, the action starts coming relatively thick and fast.
After their discovery in the corridor, they find a stairwell that may be a possible escape route, but their efforts are soon thwarted there by unexplained goings-on. They return to the hospital corridors to find another way out. The atmosphere soon becomes more and more ominous. They fast find out that all the electrics and technology are screwy, and that they are seemingly alone in the deserted hospital. The “mood” is added to by the flickering lights and gloomy hallways.
Soon after this commotion, the first Lordi monster, Lady Awa, makes her appearance in ghostly, special-effects form, shrieking like a banshee. They flee in panic. Taking shelter in an x-ray room, Jon (played by William Hope, who you will love to hate) accidentally turns on the x-ray machine and seemingly wards the scream queen, Awa, off with the rays.
Next on the Lordi monster roster, Kita (the alien beast) rips through the floor of the elevator, making the group’s night even worse. Just when they think they’ve won, he’s back again, He wounds Jon and provides another slight jump scare as he appears from seemingly no-where again. I feel the film would have benefited from making this a bit more of a scare.
The group begins to wander the corridors again, still trying to find a way out of the hospital. Meanwhile, Sarah and Tobias, an old drunkard, keep exchanging knowing glances, as though they know what is going on. About “what?”, the audience is not alluded to. As an aside, I also noticed that the “floors” seem to get increasingly darker with each new one they venture on to, to the point of their having to use torches. I presume this is intentional, and it certainly adds to the tone of the movie.
The group ventures into what seems to be a dead-end, but are stopped in their tracks after spying a hulking silhouette walking past a glass door. This brings us to the next monster on the roster: Ox, the minotaur. They begin backing away, but Ox smashes through the wall making them flee. Tobias stays on, ignoring the others’ pleas for him to follow. We hear Tobias get “killed” before Ox bursts through the doors Ben and Rick have just barricaded. He continues his onslaught, culminating in the death of Rick. Ox is easily one of the more formidable beasts in the Lordi line-up, and his hulking form should hopefully sate the thirst for horror that some of the more steadfast fans of the genre will be craving for with this movie.
The group is temporarily left to grieve for their loss. The film goes on to show some more deserted corridors, each with a clock stopped at the key time of 6.55. This will be addressed later on. They regroup, and Jon tells Ben to hand over his daughter to save the rest of their asses. Ben, of course, is not too enamoured with that idea. Their disagreement is broken up by Emily, who makes them look out of the nearby window. Raindrops and lightning are being held in suspended reality outside. Again the parallel dimension idea is suggested: they are wandering in an alternate reality where time stands still and monsters dwell. Again, a clock showing 6.55 is shown as they discuss this idea.
As Ben and Emily go to unblock a wall, leaving Jon with Sarah, they discover a mummified body covered with sand. If you know the band, there is only one possibility of which monster is coming next. They make further connections with things they have experienced previously, again addressing the theory that they are in an alternate dimension.
Meanwhile, Jon wheels Sarah away and begins calling out to the monsters, telling them that they can have her if they want her. A scuffle arises between him and the still-living Tobias. He knocks out Tobias , and an almighty sandstorm whips up in the hallway as Ben and Emily rejoin them. The next monster up is Amen-Ra, the Egyptian Pharaoh Mummy, who makes short work of Jon. Ben then punts Amen out of the window, which Sarah doesn’t seem to be too happy about.
Deciding they should make a quick getaway, Ben, Emily, and Sarah begin to venture further into the hospital once more looking for a way out. Sarah goes missing again. Ben and Emily split up, running through deserted hallways to try to find her. This opens the window for more monster attacks. Kita rushes at Emily. She manages to deal with him and gets away as quick as possible. Again, the parallel dimension” concept is presented as they end up standing in front of the same room, 235. They cannot see each other, each in a different timeline.
Ben runs into the deserted universe once more. He finds Sarah, but is subjected to another attack by Amen. Ben thinks his time is nigh, but Tobias is back once more, spearing Amen to get him away from Ben. Amen in turn stabs Tobias with the same spear and they sink into the middle of the corridor, echoing the previous shot of the bodies covered in sand. All these factors cleverly begin to intertwine.
They regroup, and have barely any time to recover before Ox launches another offensive. They get into the lift and the doors close just in time. The lift again proves that they shouldn’t trust it as they end up in the basement. Awa returns . Awa slices Emily’s leg and arm before Sarah expels her with a stern glare.
As they walk through a corridor riddled with slaughtered bodies, the clocks finally move a minute in time. This provides one of the best jump scares of the film as the zombies awaken and snap their heads around to look at the group. Ben carries Sarah into the underground car park, and Emily struggles to follow with her wounded leg. The doors slam shut, and the zombies are shown dragging her away.
Sarah squeaks out “It’s coming”. Ben doesn’t hang around to find out what “it” is, bundling her into a van as black tendrils begin to creep along the walls and floors. Sarah speaks again, saying “It’s here, it’s here.” Ben predictably loses control of the van and it cuts off. He struggles to start it again as the sinister black tendrils keep coming for him and Sarah. Just after he has restarted it, Ben suddenly has to slam the van to a halt as the tendrils get in front of him. They begin materialising into the main monster himself, Lordi. Lordi roars, and Ben throws the van into gear and drives past the big L. Thinking they’ve escaped, he stops the van and gets Sarah out, leaving her by another car while he tries to get help.
Now, I think (but am not sure) Sarah passes. Ben decides to confront Lordi, driving at the menacing black death. Before they collide, he is stopped by a blinding, white light. Sarah is standing in front of him, talking to him as the black tendrils begin to absorb him into their form. Sarah faces Lordi, who hisses and growls at her as she tries to reason with him, telling him to stop what he is doing. She closes her eyes and the screen goes white, focusing into interior shots of the deserted hospital. The movie takes us back to when Ben gets Sarah out of the MRI scanner, and replays the first scene from Sarah’s viewpoint. Tobias comes up to her and tells her he no longer feels cold, before disappearing once more. The movie ends.
All in all, the movie isn’t horrendous, though some more die-hard horror genre fans would probably call it “generic”. It has some nice twists and a cool element with the whole parallel universe idea. It’s also a nice touch not letting the ‘monsters’ have dialogue. This approach adds a very inhuman twist to it.
After three viewings now, I am still not sure if I understand what the heck is happening. In my opinion, it is not really a film you can just put on and switch your mind off. It does requires some thinking, as I am certain that I couldn’t switch off whilst watching it – and I still can’t figure it out! Although, I have also watched The Kin and did not understand that film either. So, maybe I am really thick, or maybe the Finnish minds behind the films are just on another wavelength than me… which is hopefully the more likely answer!
If you are a fan of horror, or like the band.. or even better, like both.. then Dark Floors is still worth checking out. It’s an hour and twenty minutes long, so not a massive sacrifice to make for an intriguing Finnish horror with a different-to-the-norm storyline, even if some of the elements are fairly generic. You may find it shit, you may not… but I feel that it’s worth a watch. It’s got monsters fucking people up for crying out loud! If that isn’t worth a watch, then I don’t know what is! Thanks for reading!
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