Patrascu is a middle-aged man who lives in an apartment building with his wife and their teenage son. Every day Patrascu (Teodor Corban) walks his dog to the park. Coming back from one of these walks, he overhears what sounds like an argument between two lovers from a downstairs flat. It is violent enough for Patrascu to stop and listen, wondering if he should intervene. At this moment a young man is coming out of the apartment. As Patrascu awkwardly proceeds up the stairs to his apartment, the young man follows him. Later that week, Patrascu learns that the young woman from that apartment was murdered. When he is questioned by the police, Patrascu tells them he did not see anything suspicious. Then there is a weird I-know-that-you-know game played between Patrascu and the young man, who Patrascu knows as Vali. Patrascu and his wife are in the vehicle registration business. They are hired by clients who don’t want to deal with what looks like a complex labyrinth of bureaucratic paperwork. When Vali asks Patrascu to help with his car, Patrascu is concerned but agrees. Patrascu’s worries are confirmed when he finds out that Vali has befriended his son and his wife and is helping his son with his computer. As a thriller, One floor below is a slow burner. Nothing technical, like a Hitchcock or de Palma. There are no big climatic scenes. What is important are the characters and their moral dilemmas. With very little dialogue, Corban is very effective at showing us what Patrascu is feeling and thinking. Conversely, Iulian Postelnicu as Vali is, with even less dialogue, obscure and scary. We never know what Vali is thinking. A quiet menace. One floor below is about the paralysis of guilt.
One floor below (Un etaj mai jos)
In Romanian with English subtitles.