Rebekah McKendry’s followup to Glorious may just be one of the years worst with its boneheaded plot and poor characters.
PLOT: Supernatural horror, based on the eponymous online phenomenon, a ritual conducted in an elevator, in which players attempt to travel to another dimension using a set of rules that can be found online.
REVIEW: After last year’s Glorious, Rebekah McKendry has become a name that my ears perk up to whenever I see a film with her name attached. She has an understanding of the genre and a level of technical prowess that makes her movies an absolute treat. Or at least I thought so. Because Elevator Game is certainly no Glorious. The premise of a game you play that kills you has been done time and time again, but this one has an interesting hook with it being set on an elevator, utilizing it as a portal to another dimension. But, concept aside, there’s very little else to attach to here.
The opening of the film sets up the premise perfectly, with Becki trying the infamous Elevator Game. It’s really tense and Megan Best does a great job. But as soon as the introduction is over, we spend time with our cast, which is where most of the problems lie. The acting is very iffy, with many awkward moments, especially whenever two characters are just trying to small talk. Nearly every interaction is poorly executed. The biggest issue however is that all of them are so unlikeable. I get that you need some unpleasant characters to almost be rooting against them. But even the characters you’re supposed to like are grating! It’s a constant source of frustration since movies like this NEED likable characters. Otherwise, who cares who the ghost is going after?
And I feel like I need to call out the stupidity of the setup: this is a group of friends from high school who created a paranormal show. They go to various scary places to make videos and are apparently even sponsored to do so. Everything about the writing in these scenes feels like a high schooler wrote them. And not in the “They have the voice of high schoolers” more in the “completely lacking in reality” that is prevalent in our teen years. There have been far too many well-acted/written high school films (Talk To Me, It Lives Inside) this year for this to not glaringly stand out.
Unfortunately, despite the title, the elevator is not utilized nearly enough. Whenever they try to do horror away from the elevator, it comes across silly and overlit. The Red World looks interesting but they hardly even go into it. Then there’s the story that progresses in some really sloppy ways, with dumb excuses being used to move things along. There’s a security guard character that is ultimately useless outside of conveniently timed distractions. I lost track of the dumb twists that firmly land the film in very stereotypical territory. And it’s so disappointing that nearly every character dies in such a boneheaded way. Most could have been prevented and rarely leave an impact. If you’re not going to give me characters I can care about, then at least give me cool kills!
I feel like this has just been extremely negative so let’s focus on some of the positives. The visuals are often great; especially when the more horrific moments happen. The filmmakers really allow you to soak in the moment. Every moment featuring the elevator is where the movie excels. The look of the demon is also pretty cool and most of the scenes featuring it are fairly unnerving. But whenever the makeup job is shown in any clear light, it just looks like something you’d see in a stageplay. Crap. There I go being negative again. But unfortunately, that’s what this movie warrants. Providing very few satisfying or horrific moments, Elevator Game is one I do not recommend playing.
ELEVATOR GAME is STREAMING ON SHUDDER SEPTEMBER 15TH, 2023.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/elevator-game-review/