The Bottom Line: Seen it before and seen it done better
Again I am mesmerized by the uniqueness of Julliette Lewis. This waif-like creature teeters at the edge of the unexpected in almost every movie she stars in, huge eyes and squeaky voice, irritating in nature but entrancing nevertheless. The 4th Floor was certainly no exception, but it still seemed a tired old story where the suspense paled in comparison to Ms. Lewis's acting abilities.
Lewis, an interior designer by trade, is coupled with all people, William Hurt, in this release. For pete's sake, he looks like her father! Hell, he COULD be her father. Whatever were they thinking? In addition, his plodding nature in the movie made her seem even more bizarre, which of course that is what is intended anyway - so I guess it worked.
Hurt is the local, soon to be national, weatherman on television. Very irritating with that song and dance and his put on manners. Didn't care for him a bit. Nothing like his role in Children of A Lesser God or even Kiss of the Spider Woman.
As it turns out, Lewis receives an apartment in a huge brownstone in New York, grandfathered in at her aunt's rent of $400 a month - a steal! She receives this little package after her aunt tumbles down the stairs and meets her maker, outside the door of the apartment on the 4th floor. Now supposedly an old woman lives in this apartment. We, of course, know this has to be a bunch of B.S., but nothing is ever clearly stated, we are only assuming.
She HAS to accept it, which causes friction between Hurt and herself, as she was supposed to move into a country home with him. He gets all huffy and put out, until things start happening at the old apartment building.
Anyway, throughout the movie there are huge overtones of the wonderful Pacific Heights starring Michael Keaton, but this is done is a cheap-suit runoff of the movie, leaving me flat. I did appreciate Lewis's reactions to things that happened however, she has that edgy Shelley Duvall from The Shining look to her in this movie. All sharp angles and wet armpits.
Of course in Pacific Heights we didn't have the delightful Austin Pendelton, nor did we have the ingenious use of Styrofoam packing peanuts. Who knew they could be used this way? Martha Stewart will probably corner the market on it if she ever sees the movie (yeah, right!). Oh, silly me, speaking of Shelley Duvall, she just happens to be in the movie as well as the demented downstairs (Apartment 1, you can't get in the building without passing her) neighbor. Talk about a nosey wench! Took me a while to figure out who she was, and still I waited for the credits to be sure. She was quite heavy (for Shelley) and blonde, and looked so much older.
Two other parts of merit in the movie were Tobin Bell as the Locksmith with a hidden agenda and Robert Costanzo as the Exterminator. However, despite all the acting abilities that were being tossed around, there just wasn't enough movie to hold anything together. Sure there are a couple of places where you jump, but not from fear that is for sure.
The film wasn't jerky and flowed fairly well. The parts were shallow and the plots plentiful, in fact so plentiful that nothing was developed. Add to that the characters, generally weak, no real development there either. And I'm still waiting for Sabrina Grdevich to do something wrong. They set her up all throughout the movie as some kind of Three Faces of Eve persona then just leave it fall flat.
Small breast shot of Lewis (that was NOT meant in an evil sense), some f-word language, rats and bugs, Styrofoam peanuts and disgruntled neighbors. Add to that one disgruntled viewer - not a keeper!
Thanks, Susi :(
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Susi Dawson (SusiDee34)
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Jane (Lewis) has inherited a rent-controlled brownstone apartment from her aunt, and, despite her boyfriend's (Hurt) appeals, has decided to move in and live on her own for the first time. Almost immediately she is introduced to the pleasures of living in an apartment building, as she quickly draws the ire of her downstairs neighbor (on the titular 4th floor), who pounds on his ceiling to let her know that her furniture moving is disturbing him. The next morning, she finds a warning note on her door, which she quickly dismisses. However, as more drastic actions seem to be taken against her, such as infestations of mice and cockroaches, and even break-ins, Jane begins to suspect that her neighbor wants her out. Determined to stand her ground, Jane ignores her boyfriend's pleading and decides to stick it out. But when she is attacked in her home, Jane decides to take action herself.