A laundry folding machine.
Why It Could Have Been Scary
The Mangler is based on a Stephen King short story, and everybody loves Stephen King. Maybe too much; there was a long stretch in King's career where he'd just shit into a fax machine and send it to his publisher with a note reading, "Print this!"
And they did. And then Hollywood filmed the shit Stephen shat.
"Hey, stay on the line, I'm about to pinch off another bestseller."
That was the case with The Mangler, a tale that appeared in one of King's collections of short stories. As in, this was one of those ideas even he didn't think could be stretched into a whole novel. Kind of makes you wonder why...
Why it Isn't Scary
In the film, you have to actually feed yourself to the demonically possessed laundry folding machine. It doesn't sneak into your house, it doesn't tail you in a car and it doesn't creep up on you while you're having sex with your girlfriend in the woods. Quite simply, you must give the Mangler permission to kill you by inserting yourself into the machine.
That's not a monster, that's a pretty standard laundry folding machine. There are far more scary industrial machines that exist in the real world, like metal presses and lumber claws. You know 118 lumberjacks per 100,000 die every year, and lumberjacking equipment isn't even demonically possessed. By our count, the Mangler only takes out a few rather pointless lives. Hey Mangler, call us when you grow a pair of nuts.
Most Pathetic Attempt at Horror
Watch as a middle-aged woman sticks her hand into the Mangler's mouth, over and over, taunting it.
The way we figure, the lady was asking for it. Good news: She's totally eligible for workers comp. Bad news: She's the size and shape of a t-shirt. As for the insane old man on the catwalk? The one with robot legs? We think he just wandered in from a different movie.
Why it Could Have Been Scary
Computers, robots, nanobots--technology has often played the boogeyman in horror films. Mankind has a love/fear relationship with technology. Sure you enjoy texting with your iPhone, but you keep a suspicious eye on it, wondering when the day will come that you walk in on it having sex with your wife.
The producers of The Lift must have assumed that fear of technology extended to elevators. What? It's not 1885? So elevators aren't considered high-tech anymore? "Okay," the producers said, "let's install super smart A.I. in the elevator." Now we're talking scary.
Why it Didn't Work
"Take the stairs... take the stairs... for God's sake, take the stairs... " That's the actual tagline from the awesome trailer for this movie. It's amazing when your tagline manages to kill the entire concept of the film in one shot. Why don't we just take the stairs? After, say, the second person dies at the hands of the elevator, just stick an "Out of Order" sign on the fucker and call it a day.
This doesn't occur to the people in the film, however, as right in the trailer we hear one protagonist ask, "Why not go to the police?" only to be answered, "There's no evidence."
Oh, so that's the reason they won't just arrest its ass. Well, try to beat a confession out of it then!
Worst Attempt at Horror
The following clip presumably takes place right after this exchange:
"Hey, the elevator's acting strange."
"Sure, let me just stick my goddamned head in there."
As with the Mangler, you have the evil elevator killing a man in the exact way that a regular elevator could. They even show it killing a blind man... and by "killing" we mean it sits there innocently while the blind man stumbles straight into the empty shaft.
Wouldn't a blind guy poke around with his cane a little and make sure there's a freaking floor there before he goes striding in? When the cops finally throw the lift in jail, we're thinking its lawyer can easily get it off the hook for that one. That was his own fault.