This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie/series/feature being covered here wouldn't exist.
"Elevator Game fails to frighten, the script needs some work, the score thumping through the background sounds like you're playing a children's video game."
BY BECCA JOHNSON SEPTMEBER 12, 2023
Directed by Rebekah McKendry, Elevator Game is a Shudder Original based on the Urban Legend of the same name. The movie follows socially awkward teenager Ryan, who discovers that the night his sister went missing, she had played 'The Elevator Game' – a ritual which sees its players attempt to travel to another dimension following a specific set of rules. Ignoring all warnings and risks, he attempts to follow and find her. Elevator Game is a teen horror based on a teen trend, and due to it's poor dialogue, lack of scares and messy plot, it won't do much to impress viewers outside of that demographic.
Elevator Game is a low budget horror, and whilst that's often apparent, it does try it's best. The most notable element of the movie is the physical performance from Samantha Halas. Hiring a contortionist to play the villain was a stroke of genius, as Halas looks absolutely terrifying and adds an element of practical horror to the otherwise fairly tame flick. It's fun to see a modern horror utilising practicality in this manner, and Halas does a great job. There are also bouts of cinematography that are well done, and the scenes taking place in the 'other dimension' look cool. Unfortunately, this is where the movie's notability ends.
The young actors making up the cast of Elevator Game are a mixed bag, often trying their best but failing to provide anything memorable. Unfortunately, they are having to deliver the weakest element of the movie – the script. The dialogue itself is very basic, predictable and not reminiscent of how teens talk today, which lets it down. It might've been a good match around ten years ago, but by now, it doesn't seem to fit. The urban legend fad feels like it's died out by now, so it may not be the dialogue that's outdated, but the plot as a whole. As for the rest of this script, it lacks character development which stops us from being able to root for the cast, and the story is a bit of a jumbled mess. It does attempt to throw in an explanation/twist in it's third act that shakes things up a little, but it may be too little too late. Those who are familiar with the urban legend will know the story behind it, and those who aren't will likely see it coming anyway.
With spooky season coming up, Elevator Game has released at the perfect time, and may seem like the ideal Halloween watch. Though it might provide something for a younger audience who aren't well versed in the horror genre due to it's teenage cast, entry level scares, simple storyline and Bloody Mary-esque plot, it won't be worth the watch for seasoned horror fans. The main reason for this; it lacks scares. With only two to three cool contortion scenes that offer up anything other than casual teen cheese, older viewers who are desperate for some fear factor will leave this one feeling underwhelmed. For a group of 15 year-olds at a sleepover, it's likely perfect, but for adult horror hounds, it's best to look elsewhere.
Elevator Game is unfortunately a slight mess. It fails to frighten, the script needs some work, the score thumping through the background sounds like you're playing a children's video game and it has a certain level of cheese that will turn off plenty of viewers. Despite all this, it does have some small-budget charm, and if you're looking to get youngsters into the genre, it may be a good pick (though there are certainly better ones out there) as they won't find it too predictable or horrifying. McKendry's last directorial effort, Glorious (2022), is a far more competent flick, and Elevator Game is unfortunately a disappointment.