anadian filmmaker Vincenzo Natali burst onto the
movie scene with the release of "Cube",
but has since moved onto bigger (although not necessarily better) things
ala the big-budgeted "Cypher".
"Elevated" is a 1997 short film by Natali, running 20 minutes
total, with 3 of those minutes saved for end credits. It's definitely a
creative short, with the type of personalities clashes that made
"Elevated" stars Natali regular (and high
school chum) David Hewlett as Hank, a security guard in a lush condo. When
we first see Hank, he's running through the condo's underground garage,
yelling at nervous tenant Ellen (Vicki Papavs) and the shady Ben (Bruce
McFee) to hold the elevator that they're about to step out off. Hank
bursts into the elevator and immediately uses his access card to send the
elevator up to the highest floor. His reasoning? Monsters are chasing him.
But even more suspicious, Hank is packing a switchblade and there's blood
-- although not his -- all over his clothes.
And that is the entire plot of "Elevated".
The script by Karen Walton ("Ginger
Snaps") quickly sets up the situation, getting to the point at
furious speeds. That leaves the rest of the short to Natali's cameras,
which whirls around the small confines of the reflective elevator as
Hewlett, McFee, and Papavs clashes, their natural and instinctive
personalities coming through in confrontational -- and violent -- spurts.
Of the three main roles -- aside from the trio, a
dozen extras appear at the end -- the plum role has to be Hewlett's.
Running on fumes of off-the-charts excitement and the aura of sheer
madness, Hank barely manages to get out that a monster of some sort
(possibly an alien -- "like in the movies") is after him, and
that they must get to the highest floor in order to pin the roof of the
elevator and keep the monster/alien from getting to them via the access
hatch. Is he crazy? Probably. And who could blame the no-nonsense Ben or
the neurotic Ellen for thinking so? This guy looks, sounds, and feels out
of his mind.
As a self-contained story, "Elevated" has
the vibe of a "Twilight Zone" or "Outer Limits"
episode on steroids. Natali and company packs a lot into the 17 minutes
they have to work with, coming up with a surprisingly accomplished piece
of suspenseful fiction. As to the existence of the monster or alien, the
answer is never clear until the very last minute, when a shell-shocked
Ellen finds herself back in the underground parking garage with the
elevator doors opening.
It's easy to see how Natali went from this short to
the feature-length "Cube" without nary a hiccup. The two stories
are very similar, involving limited space and creative use of, for the
most part, a singular set piece. And as is the case with all successful
shorts, the finale of "Elevated" leaves you wishing there was