The 4th Floor

The 4th Floor



The 4th Floor is one of the largely unnoticed sleepers that are better than many of the large budget films of the same genre





The 4th Floor

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Not all movies can be blockbusters. Often, some of the most interesting films I have watched over the years have been little independent films.

Largely unnoticed sleepers that are better than many of the large budget films of the same genre. One such film is the 4th Floor. Released by A-Pix, a studio building its reputation for well mastered gems, this movie may not have been well noticed in the theaters but now that its out on DVD there is no excuse to enjoy this film. The story follows Jane Emlin (Juliette Lewis) who inherits her aunts rent controlled apartment in NYC. $400 for a huge, wood paneled, wood floor spacious apartment is unheard of so naturally she takes it. Initially the only drawbacks is she was about to move in with out goal oriented weather man boyfriend Greg (William Hurt) and it is a five flight walk up. Still, Jane wants to be on her own and against the almost demands of Greg she moves in. What she finds is a brownstone full of strange people. There is Martha Stewart (Shelley Duvall), not the famous one as she tells Jane. Martha is the Greek chorus of the building, a snoop and weird older woman that is constantly warning Jane to not bother people in the building and follow the rules. Soon after she moves in Jane is ‘warned’ by her downstairs neighbor, an recluse old woman, not to make too much noise. The little notes are soon followed by a large manifesto like document that details the dos and don’ts of the building including ‘you may only move furniture between 1pm and 1:15pm. This is war for Jane who is only trying to move in and have a life. What follows is more suspense than many thrillers of late.

The actors in this film have excellent track records for being successful in any part they tackle. Lewis is perfect as the waifish young woman. She is portrayed as having a lot more courage and conviction that is apparent on the surface. She plays Jane not as a victim but rather than one defending her turf. This is different from the usual frighten silly young thing most thrillers seem to cast. Lewis has Jane remain in charge long after most would cut and run. Hurt is perfect as the supportive boyfriend. His TV commercials show his character the weatherman selling his soul to the devil for a forecast. The catch phase is ‘He will do whatever it takes’. This about sums up his part. Hurt plays Greg as a man that gives others support only to place himself in position to get what he wants.

The 4th Floor is the freshman effort for director Josh Klausner. It is also a big departure from his previous stint as the Second Unit director for the Farrelly brothers on Something About Mary and Me, Myself and Irene. Klausner wrote The 4th Floor as well as directing it. This adds more of an Indy feel to The 4th Floor. What is so good about The 4th Floor is how Klausner turns up the tension ever so slowly. Its like turning a dimmer switch on a light. The light grows brighter almost beneath your perception at first and then the intensity grows and grows. While some aspects of The 4th Floor are predicable the pacing and cinematography helps you to suspend belief and enjoy The 4th Floor. His creative use of camera angels and lighting also heighten the mood nicely and adds to the overall effect of the film.

A-Pix is one of the better studios for disc mastering. The sound was Dolby 5.0 which is an odd choice for a format. The lack of sub woofer is missed, especially during some of the moodier times like thunderstorms, etc. Aside from this the audio is excellent. It is so clear that each little movement on screen can be heard. The video is non-anamorphic, which again is very unusual for A-Pix. The one bothersome thing about The 4th Floor disc is the lack of a time track. DVD players that display elapsed time had nothing to display and the only way to position yourself at a specific chapter was from the menu, no chapter numbers were displayed. I sincerely hope A-Pix returns to the mastering company they usually use. Aside from this technical anomalies, The 4th Floor is a thriller a cut above the mainstream.

Movie Review of The 4th Floor by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com

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