Elevator Game (2023) Movie Review – This lame horror flick fails to rise above basement level

This lame horror flick fails to rise above basement level

There aren’t many games you can play in an elevator. Hide and Seek is an impossibility, a game of tag is bound to become boring very quickly, and there is very little room for a Twister mat. It’s safe to say a game of I Spy is out of the question too as after spying on something beginning with B (button), W (walls), and D (door), there are no options left for visual guessing games (let us know if you disagree). 

Of course, not many people would consider playing a game in an elevator anyway. But that isn’t the case for the protagonists of Elevator Game, a new supernatural horror thriller directed by Rebekah McKendry (Tales of Halloween).

The movie tells the tale of a group of high school graduates who run an online web series known as “Nightmare On Dare Street” where they spend their time debunking online myths. One such myth is the titular game where players must ride an elevator in a particular sequence, travelling from floor to floor until they invoke a supernatural creature called ‘The 5th Floor Woman.’

Why anybody would want to invoke a vengeful spirit is beyond me but as this game is actually based on a real-life online phenomenon, it’s clear that some people get their kicks out of this kind of thing. 

It’s not entirely clear where the elevator game originated from. Some say Korea, others say Japan, and there are some who believe it stems from Asia. To play the game (not that this is advisable), you need to be in a building that’s at least 10 stories high and press buttons in an elevator in a particular order. If played correctly, you will (allegedly) invite a mysterious woman into the elevator that you must not look at. If you do catch a glimpse of her, you will become trapped in another dimension and possibly get ripped apart. To escape before your body is torn to shreds, you must enter the elevator again and move from floor to floor in the same sequential order as before.

The game is completely illogical, as is the mythology behind it. Why would you get trapped in another realm by entering elevator buttons in a particular order? Who discovered the existence of this other world? And why would they randomly press buttons in the first place? Like many urban myths, its origins are steeped in a mystery that doesn’t make a lot of sense. 

McKendry bases her movie around this strange myth and despite the unlikely premise, manages to offer up a few creepy moments during the running time. But while she does present a few scenes of decent horror, with the occasional jump-scare moment to make you spill your tea, the movie is undone by a sluggish pace, confusing plotting, and an ending that does little to satisfy. 

The movie begins with a teenage girl getting into the elevator and playing the game. Moments later, the 5th Floor Woman arrives and the girl disappears into another realm known as the Red World. Following this tense and unnerving opening, the movie cuts to the spirit-debunking teenagers who welcome a new addition to their group. He turns out to be the brother of the missing teen from the opening sequence. His reason for joining the daring/foolish teens is rather obvious – he wants them to play the game so he can track down his sister. 

The rest of the movie is devoted to the playing of the elevator game, which naturally has deadly consequences for the members of the group. When the brother character ends up in the Red World, which isn’t as scary a place as you might expect, he comes face-to-face with one of its ghoulish residents whose contorted body is a little like that of Linda Blair during the spider sequence in The Exorcist.

But while this strange-looking spirit girl is effectively scary, there is little about the alternate realm that proves terrifying. The place is near-identical to our own with the only difference being that everything is bathed in a pinkish-red light. I suppose budgetary constraints are the reason for the lack of imagination, although this isn’t the movie’s biggest issue.

The main problem with Elevator Game is that it plays out exactly like you might expect, especially if you have seen other horror tales based on viral sensations, such as Slender Man and the more successful Talk To Me. The teens daringly tempt fate by playing a disturbing game, they discover the myth behind the game is actually true, and they then get bumped off one by one by the monster they have invited into their lives. 

It’s this by-the-numbers approach that makes the movie something of a bore to sit through. If the teens were a likeable bunch, it may have been more interesting as we would likely root for their survival. But as most of them are rather irritating and uninteresting, it’s hard to care about their fate. The only character we are likely to care for is the brother of the missing girl. He has a genuine reason to play the game, unlike the others who are only doing it to win fans on social media. But as his character has been rather thinly written, it’s hard to become invested in his life too.

Ultimately, this is another Shudder Original that isn’t all that original and that doesn’t bring about a case of the shudders. A few gorily gruesome moments aside, this does little to stand out from others of its kind, so it isn’t really worth your time. A game of Twister has more twists and turns than this disappointing terror tale and a few rounds of I Spy will do more to keep your eyes open. 

As such, don’t worry if you don’t get around to seeing Elevator Game. It’s less of a slog than a walk up several flights of stairs but it doesn’t do much to rise above basement level!


Read More: Elevator Game Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 4/10

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