Elevator Game (2023)
September 18, 2023 10:13 AM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] The young hosts of an online paranormal investigation show, on the verge of losing their primary sponsor, need to produce an episode... fast. New recruit Ryan suggests they look into "The Elevator Game." To play the game, you must ride the elevator from floor-to-floor in a specific sequence, invoking a supernatural creature called "The 5th Floor Woman." The game may not just be another hoax to debunk, though, and Ryan may have his own motivations for encouraging them to play.

Starring: a bunch of forgettable, fresh-faced young people.

Directed by Rebekah McKendry (Glorious). Written by Travis Seppala, based on the urban legend/creepypasta.

38% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

A Shudder original. JustWatch.
posted by DirtyOldTown (7 comments total)
I'm a big fan of Rebekah McKendry as a person. She's co-host of one of my favorite horror podcasts, Fangoria's Colors of the Dark. She's a Southern Gen X horror nerd who watches an appalling amount of movies. She's as simpatico for me as it gets.

I'm a fan of her demented Lifetime drama film, Psycho Granny which hit all of the Lifetime beats and stayed in that channel's production wheelhouse while also being very bonkers. And I very much enjoyed her film from last year, Glorious which starred Ryan Kwanten and the voice of JK Simmons in what can only be described as a Lovecraftian glory hole story.

Mixed in around and before those two films was a bunch of low budget paying-the-bills work that wasn't witless or bad, but was pretty schlocky get-the-shot-and-move-on low budget stuff done for hire. I don't begrudge anyone paying the bills, and it's a hard, hard industry to make work. She generally found ways to put her stamp on things, such that they weren't total wastes, at least.

It really felt like with Glorious, she had levelled up and would be making film films, and not just taking gigs to pay the bills.

And yet... Elevator Game feels like she's back to being the industry vet who can bring your meh indie horror film in on time and on budget. There are moments where you can see her breadth of influences and the great choices she can make (the J horror-esque first kill, some awesome giallo lighting to set up the Red Lands). But for every bit of that, she's held back by perfunctory low-budget stuff. Lighting straight out of a network teen drama. The script. Or, from a production design standpoint, there's stuff like an "old 13 story building" that is a) clearly 7 stories max, when shown from outside; b) obviously isn't large enough to contain the hallways shown; and c) has a lobby that was seemingly put together with cheap props and wallpaper from a box store someone hoped could pass for "old." And dang, these actors do not do her any more favors than the script does.

In the end, this was not Bekah working out her clever and weird inner artist. She just got paid to make a thing and bring it home on time. Good for her, but not at all something anyone should prioritize seeing.

If you're fonder than I am of 90's slashers with loud, annoying older teens/younger twentysomethings getting theirs, urban legends, etc. you might judge it more generously than I did. but much as I hate to say it, this was not for me.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:26 AM on September 18 [4 favorites]

(Still love ya, RMc, and I'm glad the work is coming in.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:31 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]

I also loved Glorious and so I watched this over the weekend.I was deeply disappointed. The writing was very trope heavy-yet another group of young people's who life work is based on getting views involving haunted places go to a haunted place and bad shit ensues. In addition to this, there isn't much in the way of character or even the urban legend itself. Like how did this legend even come to be known? The self proclaimed "research nerd" ends up uncovering a pretty generic origin story in the third act, but it still doesn't explain how anyone would find out about this. Like if everyone who does is this immediately doomed, how would anyone know to do this? Why would anyone think to do this? And the "code" that releases the "red realm" has nothing to do with origin story. Like the ghost was like "I can't just haunt an elevator. I need a hook!" but doesn't have any ghost friends to help her out with something more compelling than a 20 minute elevator ride to different floors. And don't even get me on the "comic relief" of a character taking all the salt shakers from a restaurant to protect themselves from the evvvvvvvvvvvil. This isn't even a half baked first draft, it's like someone made half a recipe and then said "Done!" without even putting it in the oven.

The set design and acting is equally bad. Like this movie could possibly have been amusing if it had embraced mocking the myriad of films like this, but it played it straight.

So I would be very hard pressed to recommend this film even for playing it the background while folding laundry.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:03 PM on September 18

Yeah, she's such a great person who obviously can make a good film. But this ain't it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:42 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]

What's particularly odd is one of the writers of glorious also wrote this movie. The other two writers wrote Found.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:33 PM on September 18

I'm here with popcorn and just enjoying the DOT/miss-lapin exchange

carry on!
posted by elkevelvet at 2:44 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]

Us talking about this movie is definitely far more entertaining the movie itself.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:43 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]

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