An Average Movie-Goer’s Review
Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post
I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.
Today we’re looking at Blumhouse’s 2019 Hulu Original, Down
Terror seeps in when two strangers are stuck in an elevator over a long weekend and one is not who they appear to be.
Down is a part of Hulu’s Into the Dark series wherein they released a movie a month based on a holiday/event in that month. We also reviewed another entry in the Into the Dark series, Blood Moon. You can read our review/explanation here: Blood Moon (2021) Explained.
Is it Scary?
No not at all, there’s also very little suspense. Down is as scary as a Lifetime movie or even a broadcast television movie. You won’t be scared at all.
The film opens with credits intercut with shots of a destroyed elevator. There’s blood smeared on the walls and someone scraping little stick people stuck in an elevator. These appear to be shots of things to come as we see the title card pop up.
We cut to some security footage that tells us it’s February 13th at 7:30pm and it seems everyone has gone home except for our main character, Jennifer (played by Natalie Martinez). In a dark office she writes an email to an ex, Derek, informing him she plans on flying to New York and asking if they can meet to talk.
We cut to another character, Guy, (played by Matt Lauria), leaving the bathroom and preparing to leave the building. His quick scenes are intercut with Jennifer doing the same and both waiting for the elevator on different floors.
After Jennifer gets in the elevator, Guy gets in a few floors down and they exchange some awkward small talk about the upcoming Valentine’s and President’s day weekend. Guy then points to the stick figure trapped in the elevator.
Importantly, there’s only one stick figure at the time. So someone is going to get a little artsy before the movie is over.
As the elevator passes the first of many basement/parking floors, there’s a thud and it stops. The two attempt both the call and alarm buttons but neither work. The two then wave to the camera in an attempt to get a security guards attention but it appears that there’s no one at the desk. This is going well.
While they wait for help, Guy attempts to start a conversation and we learn he is a new accountant at one of the firms in the building. If I’ve learned anything from movies it’s that a character being a “new guy” somewhere is usually suspicious.
Within 15 minutes the two attempt to scream for help and Jennifer climbs on Guy’s shoulders to look for a hatch on the ceiling, finding none.
An hour passes and the two bond with some dialogue lifted straight from a romantic comedy that’s not very funny. The two exchange names and ‘snacks’; water from Guy and Hershey’s kisses from Jennifer.
Now 11:45pm, four hours since getting on the elevator, Jennifer is having a crisis because she really has to pee. After some convincing from Guy, she pees into her empty thermos. See? Romantic ‘comedy’!
After that incident, Jennifer then uses a corkscrew she carries around to carve the stick woman into the stick man picture. Some more time passes and the two continue to bond. We find out that Jennifer’s now missed flight was a spur of the moment thing to see Derek who probably didn’t want to see her.
Feeling bad for her situation, Guy opens the bottle of wine he was saving for a client and the two drink.
1am rolls around and the two are drawing portraits of each other when Guy tells Jennifer he wants to make an admission. Is it time for horror? No, he tells her he lied earlier when he said he had never seen her and actually had seen her in the lobby several times before.
He also admits to having a little crush on her and states he didn’t want to say anything earlier so she wouldn’t perceive him as a stalker. Jennifer appears to be charmed by the admission and laughs.
The two then reveal their portraits of each other and Jennifer has jokingly drawn Guy as a devil lobster thing? Guy jokingly states she captured a side of him no one has seen which feels like a little wink to the audience called foreshadowing.
The two try to decide on topics to talk about, landing on sex Jennifer feels this is a great conversation to record. She pulls out her phone and they record each other telling the story of the dirtiest place they each had sex in.
Jennifer says hers was college and since Guy doesn’t have a story, Jennifer forces him to make one up. After he makes up a story about an old work colleague during a picnic he becomes aroused and apologizes.
Jennifer tells him he doesn’t have to apologize and the two kiss leading to sex. Afterwards Guy pulls a half-Mosby and tells Jennifer he could fall in love with her. This immediately kills the mood and Jennifer tells him this was just a fantasy, leaving Guy heartbroken.
After Jennifer tells him she’s just being honest, Guy gets real menacing and tells her he needs to be honest too. He admits he isn’t new to the building, isn’t an accountant, and that his name isn’t even Guy!
Turns out ‘Guy’ has been stalking Jennifer for awhile and is actually the front desk security guard. He shows Jennifer pictures he’s taken for the last several hundred days from security footage including footage of her waiting for the elevator earlier. This tells us the entire thing has been planned by this guy.
This stranger guy completely loses it and starts yelling and banging on the elevator to let out his frustration about being turned down. He then reveals he has the elevator key and tells Jennifer she can go.
As the elevator starts back up, Jennifer gets justifiably pissed and tells ‘Guy’ she’s going to call the police. This was probably not the best thing to do at the moment. ‘Guy’ states he won’t let that happen and turns off the elevator leaving the key in the lock.
Jennifer runs for the key and ‘Guy’ lifts her up to pull her back but as she kicks the air, she accidentally kicks the key, breaking it.
Enraged, Jennifer beats the crap out of him and uses the pee-filled thermos to crack him in the head causing a wide gash that knocks him out. She then goes to check on him which, and I can not stress this enough, is something you should never do in a horror movie.
Unsurprisingly and in a jump scare, ‘Guy’ wakes up screaming, grabs Jennifer’s head and slams it on the floor knocking her out. He then falls unconscious again… or goes to sleep, not sure which since he’s clearly a psycho.
Sometime later Jennifer wakes up and ‘Guy’ tells her he did it all so he could get to know her without any distractions. I guess he didn’t realize being locked in an elevator in the middle of the night is a pretty big distraction.
Jennifer once again reiterates ‘Guy’ won’t get away with this and plans on ratting him out when the next security guard shows up. But, ‘Guy’ reveals he switched shifts with all the other security guards on duty that weekend and no one will find them until Tuesday.
He then says he needs to figure something out before Tuesday since he would rather kill Jennifer than go back to prison. Finally the suspense starts! We’re almost an hour into this hour and twenty minute movie.
Jennifer calls him a monster and states the very real fact that he kidnapped her, this causes ‘Guy’ to lose his cool.
‘Guy’ taunts her, grabbing and opening the gifts Jennifer was carrying for Derek. He forces her to open the other gift which is revealed to be a cigar set containing a lighter and a small pair of sharp cigar scissors. Perfect for cutting someone which is something she doesn’t immediately do.
‘Guy’ continues to act like a psycho, smoking and taunting Jennifer. We cut to a little bit later and ‘Guy’ is now apologizing to Jennifer and asking her for another chance yet he does this in a menacing way.
He then uses the pee-filled thermostat and slams it against the light panels as they were annoying him for not being on. This causes him to realize that the lightbulbs have to be changed from the outside and that the ceiling panels can be forced open.
Using the pee-filled thermostat he climbs up and slams it against a ceiling panel causing it to loosen and open.
‘Guy’ tells Jennifer to boost him up but she’s smarter than ‘Guy’s’ average kidnap victim’s and tells him it’s easier to boost her up. She promises to do whatever he says and send help once she’s free.
He falls for this and once she’s out of the elevator, she gives him the finger because she was obviously lying. Why didn’t she wait till she was actually free to reveal her plan, I don’t know but ‘Guy’ finds a way to climb through the ceiling and chases after her.
Jennifer reaches one of the elevator doors but is unable to open it before ‘Guy’ reaches her. Seeing no other option, he jumps towards her, grabbing her, and bringing them both crashing back down through the elevator ceiling, knocking them both out.
A little while later Jennifer wakes up before ‘Guy’ and notices a fire sprinkler that was hidden behind a ceiling panel? How would that even work?
She uses the paper of the portrait and the lighter from the cigar box to start a fire in hopes the smoke triggers the fire alarm. ‘Guy’ wakes up and tells her it won’t work just as the sprinkler turns on.
‘Guy’ attempts to attack Jennifer but she kicks him directly in the face breaking his nose. She then grabs her blazer and his shirt and ties him up. For some reason, ‘Guy’ thinks this is a great time to once again taunt her about her plan. Jennifer then takes the cigar scissors and unbuttons ‘Guy’s’ pants so she can chop his dick off.
‘Guy’ screams and we cut to black.
We open to a crying ‘Guy’ thanking Jennifer for not disfiguring him. Jennifer then decides that she should record his confession since she doesn’t want the story to be a ‘he said/she said’ situation. Which honestly makes no sense since there are cameras recording him beating her…
Regardless, while recording, we learn it’s now Sunday and ‘Guy’s’ real name is John Deakins. We then see a few flashbacks that fill in some holes including John turning off the elevator when he pointed out the stickman drawing on the elevator.
John confesses the sex story of the work colleague from earlier was actually true. Apparently John Deakins was a successful executive Vice President of a company until that work picnic where, after he left with the woman, he crashed his car killing her.
After 6 months in jail, the only job he was able to get was as a security guard in the building. Jennifer then stops recording because she actually feels bad for him! Why? He tried to kill her and now she feels bad enough to stop her recording? Just a dumb move by the character.
Sometime later it’s now Monday 1am and one of the security guards, Eddie (played by Arnie Pantoja), shows up with his girlfriend to sneak her up to the roof. Opening the door he calls out for John but gets no response and then sees John and Jennifer through one of the cameras.
Eddie uses the telecom to call to the elevator causing Jennifer to wake up and beg for help but she neglects to mention John is the one who got her into this mess. Eddie rushes downstairs and uses a crowbar to open the door. John wakes up, unties himself, and pushes Jennifer out of the way before Eddie could realize what’s going on.
John then tells Eddie he’s in the elevator and Eddie passes him his key so he can override the elevator. John lies and says it’s not working causing Eddie to climb up to help. Before he can get fully inside, John turns the key and pins him down allowing the elevator to chop him in half.
Jennifer screams and John knocks her out. A lot of people going unconscious way too many times in this movie.
We next see John carrying an unconscious Jennifer and putting her in the trunk of his car. He then starts his cleanup of the area including throwing Eddie’s chopped up body down the elevator shaft, cleaning the blood off of himself, changing clothes, and deleting all the files from the computer.
Eddie’s girlfriend sees John and asks for Eddie which causes John to kill her. He tosses her body down the elevator shaft as well.
John then drives down an alley to a dumpster and pours gasoline in it in order to kill Jennifer.
Before John opens the trunk he apologizes to Jennifer and tells her in another life they could be together. He opens the trunk and Jennifer appears to be dead. Thinking she is dead, he turns around and throws her purse into the dumpster.
But, surprise! Jennifer is totally alive. She attacks him from behind knocking him down with the gas can and jumps in the car. She then reverses towards John crashing into the dumpster as he jumps into it.
Badly injured and unable to move, John can do nothing as Jennifer tosses a lit cigar into the dumpster and burns him alive.
The problem with Down is that it takes way too long for the movie to even attempt to build suspense or horror. The most likely reason this happens is because Down is part of Hulu’s twelve months of horror where they release a movie each month centered around a holiday or event. Since Down was for February it centered around Valentine’s Day so they need to build the romance first.
The acting is pretty good for the most part, Matt Lauria does a good job switching from likable to crazed stalker. The dialogue is ehh with some cringy moments and some moments that try to hard for scares but don’t really work, like when Guy/John kills Eddie/Mario.
Overall the story does make sense and the movie won’t leave you asking questions except for how the hell did they survive that fall in the elevator shaft.
Looking as it is a romance/horror movie, Down does its job. Would it have been more suspenseful if we knew about Guy/John’s plan from the beginning? Probably but then you lose the romance.
So put this movie in the “okay but not scary” column. It wouldn’t be on my list of horror movie recommendations to watch unless you’re looking for a Lifetime movie.
Stuff to Ignore
Rotten Tomatoes – Doesn’t have it’s own page or score
Metacritic – Doesn’t have it’s own page or score