by Hope Madden
Urban legends, paranormal hunter shows, teens making bad decisions – Rebekah McKendry’s Elevator Game rehashes a lot of ideas but banks on a new game and villain to elevate the familiar.
Elevate, get it? It’s in an elevator.
Which, to be honest, seems like the first missed opportunity because McKendry chooses not to heighten claustrophobic tensions by trapping anyone with a monster in a tiny, enclosed box suspended in midair.
Instead, gullible thrill seekers (and the hosts of a paranormal investigation show) follow the rules of the online sensation, the elevator game. Press a specific sequence of floors. When it’s finally time to press the button for floor #5, keep your eyes closed the whole time. Do that and the 5th Floor Lady will pull your car up to the 10th floor for a glimpse of her red world.
Sneak a peek instead of keeping your eyes closed and you – and anyone else sorry enough to ride the elevator with you – will face nasty consequences.
There’s an effective backstory explaining the origins of the 5th Floor Lady and an occasionally impressive use of shadow. But McKendry’s network TV style staging and drama leach all tension from the story.
Not one actor convinces as a high school student, nor do most of them convince as long-term best friends or even as frightened prey. David Ian McKendry and Travis Seppala’s dialog doesn’t help.
Nazarly Demkowicz comes off best, playing the gang’s occult-nerdy camera operator, Matty. His performance borders on comic relief, but offers more nuance than what you can expect from the balance of the cast.
McKendry’s 2022 WTF horror Glorious, while flawed, spilled over with imagination and sewage in equal measure. Elevator Game is in want of more imagination. (The sewage would really be out of place, though.)