Hellevator: Not Just a J-Horror Film Ask the Twisted Twins

Jen and Sylvia Soska promoting See No Evil 2
In 2004 a group of university students made a film for their final project. Titled Hellevator, aka Gusha no bindume (quite possibly inspired by the 1997 film Cube) the low budget film entertains fully and takes place almost entirely in an elevator. This J-Horror became a cult hit and now the Twisted Twins, Jen and Sylvia Soska are a part of a new game show with the same name, Deadline states that the show will “feature” the twins. The article does not specify whether the twins will be hosting the show or not.

Jen and Sylvia Soska are filmmakers who brought the world Dead Hooker in a Trunk, American Mary, See No Evil 2 and Vendetta and also work as actors and writers. Their films are raw, edgy and full of the obligatory gore that all horror movies need to satisfy hardcore fans. American Mary, starring Katharine Isabelle became an immediate cult classic and the two directors put their personal stamp on every project they make. Their segment of The ABCs of Death 2,T is for Torture Porn was banned in Germany, but for those who do not live in the Fatherland, the short film screams Twisted Twins from the very first frame.

Sylvia and Jen are favorites at horror cons and their fans adore them. So far in 2015, the two women are branching out into other forms of media with their unique style of horror. GSN have greenlit a new game show set around the horror genre and it will be produced by the folks who brought the world Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister and The Purge.

According to press releases, three contestants will enter an elevator. The car will stop at a number of floors and one player will leave the lift to face a “scary” challenge, which must be won in a set time period be left behind. If the player wins, a certain amount of money is earned for the small team of three.

Jason Blum, executive producer on the upcoming project, says he has wanted to do something like this for years and promises that it will “scare the living hell” out of folks. Todd Lubin, another executive producer for the show says that it will be a unique experience for contestants who will suddenly find themselves in a horror story.

While it has not been revealed just what the twins will be doing on the show, if they work behind the scenes it will indeed be scary and different. Fans of the twins will be excited to learn of their involvement in the new horror themed game show and this is yet another chance for the talented duo to show just how scary they can be.

The fact that the show is named after a low budget student film set in an elevator which became a cult J-Horror classic is a touch that is just too good to be true. Of course the name, Hellevator, could be a serendipitous coincidence but with Jen and Sylvia Soska being involved it may be that the show’s title is a nod to that unique and brilliant little “student film.”

Devil (2010): Good Night?

Based on a story written by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable) and adapted for the screen by Brian Nelson (30 Days of Night, Hard Candy) and directed by John Erick Dowdle (QuarantineThe Poughkeepsie TapesDevil is ‘watered down’ Shyamalan.

Night who wrote the story with  Agatha Christie‘s book And Then There Were None as his template, married the plot with a fairytale about the Devil coming to Earth and torturing sinners. With most of the action taking place in an elevator, it makes for a claustrophobic tale of terror.

Unfortunately using a lift (elevator) as the setting for a ‘horror film’ is not unique. The vastly superior  2004 Japanese horror/science fiction film  Hellevator was set (apart from a very tiny portion of the film) entirely on an elevator. *On a side note – this Japanese film was made by a group of university students who had to tout tickets for its World Premier. Shot on what could be called the very epitome of a shoestring budget, the core set (the elevator scenes) was a 4×6 box that had removable sides. This ‘small’ student film builds more atmosphere and foreboding than most mainstream films on the market today.

Devil opens with a voice over telling the story of the Devil visiting sinners on earth. We are told by the narrator of the story that a suicide opens the door for the Devil to arrive. At this point in the film a man commits suicide by taking a high dive off of an office building where the story will take place.

The main cast of characters include an alcoholic cop who lost his wife and child in a hit and run years before – Detective Bowden (Chris Messina) and the five strangers who enter the elevator in the building (Logan Marshall-GreenJenny O’HaraBojana NovakovicBokeem WoodbineGeoffrey Arend). The last character of significance is Ramirez (Jacob Vargas) who is a security officer in the office building and who does the voice over at the beginning of the film.

In a nutshell, the cop is going to investigate something else when the leaper falls from the office building. The security officer is the one who realises that the events in the elevator and the office building are connected and supernatural in origin. The five occupants in the elevator are all ‘sinners’ with the degree of their ‘sin’ varying by each person. One of the occupants in the elevator is actually the Devil and one is connected to the alcoholic cop.

Whew.

The elevator with the captive audience of five, is trapped between floors. As they are waiting for the thing to be fixed, tensions mount and they start attacking one another. Verbally at first then physically and finally lethally. Each time the action  escalates in the elevator it’s preceded by the lights going out. When the lights come back on, someone has been physically attacked or another member of the group dies.

The whole thing hinges around who in the lift is the Devil. When we watched the movie at the cinema, my daughter and I picked out early on who we thought the Devil was. There is a plot twist in the film that, although it has been done before, still manages to surprise the viewer.

This film is worth watching as it is entertaining if not blazingly original. I cannot help but feel it would have been a lot better if Night himself had helmed the project and not just written the story it was based on. But as this was at a point in his career that ‘Night bashing’ was rife in the industry I am not surprised that he chose this route for his vision.

My final verdict is that it is a ‘one bagger’ of a film. One large bag of popcorn will easily see you through the film with it’s lack of jumps and popcorn tossing scares. Entertaining  but be glad you didn’t fork out the price of a cinema ticket.

M. Night Shyamalan
M. Night Shyamalan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)