Kidnap victim Aria Wolf (Charlotte Best) comes to, bound, gagged, blindfolded and all alone. Her nightmare only begins as she manages to free herself, learning that she seems to be locked inside an elevator, of all places. With the contraption repeatedly hurtling down the shaft of a high rise building at a speed faster than gravity itself, it’s like being held hostage inside Disney’s Tower of Terror.
Aria might have a bit more wiggle room than her peers, but Rising Wolf is a fairly typical entry into the ‘trapped’ subgenre of films; imagine Buried, if they’d tied Ryan Reynolds’ coffin to a bungee cord. Or the recent Netflix thriller Oxygen, if its heroine had been in freefall the whole time. Trapped inside of a (surprisingly roomy) elevator, Aria attempts to escape while also trying to bargain with her kidnappers, communicate with would-be rescuers and navigate confusing flashbacks to her childhood. All this, while trying not to die every time the elevator decides to drop ninety floors or so at terminal velocity.
There’s not a lot of concept there to sustain a hundred-odd minutes of movie, and so director Antaine Furlong pads the scares out with a confusing sci-fi subplot about gangsters, Aria’s kidnapped dad and superpowered (!) children. Best acquits herself well, doing great work, even when it’s just her, all alone in an elevator, fighting for her life. Furlong and co-writer Kieron Holland keep the thing trundling along at a healthy pace, but it gets sillier with every revelation, its ambition let down by cheap CGI and a convoluted ending.
Again, the Tower of Terror comparison is apt; Rising Wolf ultimately resembles the sort of thing you might expect to watch on a monitor while queuing for a packed theme park ride. It makes for a solid sci-fi thriller but is much more complicated than a movie about a woman stuck inside a yo-yo elevator needs to be.