DARK FLOORS aka The Lordi Motion Picture (2008)
There are films that look so great that you have to run out and see them in the movie theater. There are films which look interesting enough that you think “Hmm…maybe when it comes on cable.” Then there are movies which you record purely because of the synopsis, thinking, “I’ll watch that when I have some laundry to fold.”
Dark Floors falls into the latter category.
When I saw the description of this movie on IFC, I immediately thumbed the record button. Read the following and see if you could have passed it up: Heavy-metal demons pursue a father and daughter, who have inexplicably become trapped in a haunted hospital. I thought, “I worked in a hospital for almost two decades and I know how creepy they can be. Plus Heavy-metal demons!” I should have paid more attention to the rest of the description, especially the word “inexplicably.” What the person who had summarized the movie was really saying was, “This movie doesn’t make a lick of sense.”
I knew the movie was going to be tough going when it began with the MRI of a little girl, moaning and shaking her head. My aforementioned medical experience – including multiple head MRIs – informed me that she had just totally ruined the scan. Still, the doctors press on until the machine malfunctions. The doctors and the girl’s father enter the room to rescue her, and of course, none of the metal objects they are carrying go flying into the giant magnet. Par for the course for what is evidently the worst hospital ever. None of the medical team know what they are doing. They provide no comfort to the dad who is equally clueless. They start the girl on an experimental drug for epilepsy without parental consent, which apparently will not damage her liver but, “might be fatal,” if they stop giving it to her.
Sigh. It will be OK. Heavy metal demons are coming.
What follows may contain spoilers, so read at your own risk.
The father decides that the best thing for his daughter is to sneak her out of the hospital in the middle of the night. He ends up trapped on an elevator with the people who will be the rest of the cast of the film. These include:
Sara — the creepy girl who draws things which later come to pass. Unfortunately, no one ever pays attention to what she is drawing. She also has an annoying tendency to sneak away from the group. Apparently she is suffering from not only some form of autism, but also Carl Grimes Syndrome.
Clueless Dad — a strong contender for Worst Father of the Year. He has brought his daughter to the hospital for treatment, but then randomly decides she would be better at home (given the kind of care given in this hospital, I am tempted to agree with him). He constantly ignores his daughter. A prime example of his parenting skills would be the scene where he takes the only caregiver with him and leaves his daughter with the person who, not three minutes before, had suggested sacrificing Sara to stop the haunting.
Even More Clueless Female Medical Professional — This is the person who started Sara on the experimental drug which she doesn’t know the name of, only that it is kept in the Emergency Room. Upon encountering a woman in a wheelchair whose eyes have been gouged out, she does not render assistance or even check for a pulse. She just puts a towel over her face. In another scene she actually says, “His had was cold, like he was dead.” Nice diagnostic skills.
World’s Worst Security Guard — this actor was trying so hard to be Ving Rhames that I can’t even make fun of him.
Tobias — the gibberish talking homeless person who obviously knows what is going on but no one listens to him. Also known as cut-rate Robert Englund.
John — his character development is limited to: “wears a suit and carries a briefcase.” The moment we see him we know he is going to be the monumental jerk we will be happy to see die. Think Paul Reiser’s Carter Burke in Aliens.
Our intrepid heroes get stuck on the elevator, Tobias passes out. When he comes to the doors open and the entire hospital is empty and slightly decrepit. I sat forward, knowing that the heavy metal demons would be showing up at any time. Instead we have some nice tension building as the group wanders around the hospital, looking for anyone else or a way out. They become lost and eventually encounter…a ghost. Um…where are my heavy metal demons? Actually, I can’t fault the film here. The CGI ghosts are actually really well done and quite spooky. The group runs some more, encounters more ghosts, fights amongst themselves, and ignores Sara and Tobias. John finally runs off to another elevator where he encounters our promised heavy metal demon! Said demon looks a lot like the drummer from GWAR. A little post-viewing research revealed that this is because the idea for the film came from the Finnish heavy metal band Lordi, who appear on stage in full demon costumes. Each band member has his own personality and backstory. Unfortunately, to understand the movie, you have to be well versed in Lordi lore. Those of us without this knowledge are completely in the dark, as there is no attempt to explain what is going on. We progress on, seeing each of the Lordi band members but not knowing what they are doing or why. There is a time-loop plot twist in which actions the characters take later in the film have had affects on their earlier adventures. Unfortunately this is one of the many threads which remain untied at the end of the movie. The characters get picked off one by one as we slowly make our way to the cop-out ending. As the credits rolled I felt cheated, disappointed, but happy that I was done folding laundry.
Visually, the movie is stunning. There is a clear delineation between the regular world and the decaying hospital. Much of the latter is shot in over-saturated blue which provides a nice back ground for the ghosts.
On a scale of Wow to Nooooo! Dark Floors rates a Meh minus. Watch it for the special affects and fast forward through the dialog.
About the Author
Michael Cieslak is a lifetime reader and writer of dark speculative fiction. He lives near Detroit in a house covered with Halloween decorations in October and dragons the rest of the year with his wife and two dogs. His works have appeared in numerous anthologies. He is the Literature Track Head for Penguicon. In 2013 he started the Dragon’s Roost Press imprint which which published its first book, Desolation, 21 Tales for Tails in 2014. His mental excreta can be found at thedragonsroost.net.