Three friends sign up for a game show - but once they arrive for filming, they have to ride a terrifying haunted elevator to an abandoned warehouse that contains all their worst fears. The game show hosts, identical twins dressed all in black, manipulate the monsters, ghosts and serial killers that torment the friends - and the elevator is leaving soon.
This isn’t the premise for a creative horror movie or a hilarious SNL sketch, but a REAL. LIFE. GAME SHOW. It’s called Hellevator, and it premiered on GSN TV last night - you can catch future episodes every Wednesday at 8pm. The hosts are the self-proclaimed “Twisted Sisters” Jen and Sylvia Soska - you might know them as the women behind critically acclaimed horror films like American Mary and Dead Hooker In A Trunk.
We called Jen and Sylvia to talk about Hellevator, their favorite horror movie twins and what it means to make “feminist horror.”
Tell me about Hellevator! It’s a horror game show and it sounds amazing.
Jen: It is amazing. Basically, contestants have to survive a horror film told in four acts every episode. The coolest thing is there are so many people, and I’m guilty of the same thing, who watch horror movies and they sit there and say, “I wouldn’t do that” or “Don’t go in there!” so we’re putting that to the test.
Sylvia: We do a psychological profile on the contestants and a lot of time they forget what they told us, and then when they get into this interactive horror movie, they tend to be really surprised when their fears are actually in there. It’s not just about money, though that’s definitely a big part, but it’s also facing your fears. If you're not able to face your fears, you’re going to crash and burn.
Were there any horror films you looked to in particular?
Jen: The cool thing is there’s never just one type of horror or one inspiration. If it happened in horror, we’re going to put it in there. We’re always looking to outdo ourselves and scare the crap out of people!
Would you two be contestants if you could?
Sylvia: I actually got to try one of the tests in the pilot episode. It wasn’t as dark as it is on the show because I was just testing it out, but oh my gosh, I wasso scared. But when I got through it, I felt like I just beat one of Jigsaw’s puzzles. I felt so alive! I loved it.
Jen: I would absolutely do it because I would love to do a horror movie that was created specifically for us. But the host who would take our place for that episode would have to be Elvira. I would love to have her come into our lair, tap us on the shoulder and say, “Get the hell out of here, girls!”
There are so many interesting things going on in horror right now, with horror comedy and horror satire subgenres emerging. Does Hellevator feel like part of a larger movement?
Jen: Absolutely. The thing about horror fans is they wear their weirdness on their sleeve. When you go to a horror convention, you’re hugged by guys dressed like Mike Meyers who go, “Dude, you look awesome, can I stab you in a picture?” It’s really coming to the front and center. Horror is also one of those things that allows you to face your fears in a safe environment. There are a lot of really horrific things happening in the world that we can’t tune out and it’s almost like you can psychologically deal with it and confront your fears.
Sylvia:It’s a fact that in the US, Halloween is an $8 billion industry. No matter how old you are, if you're’ a girl, if you're a boy, what your religion is, what your race is, everyone likes a good scare. Whether they want to admit it or not!
Still from "Hellevator"
I’ve seen you described as "feminist horror filmmakers." Would you agree with that? What does that mean to you?
Sylvia: I think it’s very strange when anyone describes themselves as not feminist, because feminism is just equality between the two genders. Some people get that message mixed up and I think that’s why people are so afraid of that F-word. But in all honesty, I grew up watching horror movies and I found a lot of strength in watching the final girls. To me, it was saying that no matter how small you are or weird or awkward, you can overcome any kind of huge obstacle.
But the more I watch the genre, the more I notice these throwaway female characters and I’m like, “Where are the stories that represent me and the modern woman and my friends?” American Mary ended up being a very therapeutic film to make, but at the same time I didn’t realize how many people it was going to hit a chord with. It was so brutally honest about everything, but it was behind the mask of body horror so you didn't feel like you were being preached at about these issues - the main theme of American Mary is that your body is your own to do with as you like and nobody has any right to say anything over that.
I think it’s a huge privilege to be called a feminist filmmaker. I always try to be worthy of the influence we have and to talk about these very blatant issues where we’re at an all time low of female directors being hired, and we’re still paid half as much as men are. As much as i’d like to be seen purely as a director and respected for my body of work, I have to talk about these issues because they’re just staring us in the face every single day.
Of course, I also have to ask you about all the twins in horror! You’ve obviously embraced that trope, but is that something you grew up being annoyed or offended by?
Jen: I was offended there weren't more twin horror movies! I love the Shining and we’ve dressed up as those twins many, many times. We’ve actually been courting each other on Twitter and I would love to collaborate with those ladies.
Sylvia: Horror movies and twins go hand in hand because twins are kind of an oddity. I think we realized that even when we were in grade school. Before we even went into filmmaking, Jen and I came up with the moniker “The Twisted Twins.” We said, wouldn’t it be cool if when we walk into a room, instead of going “Twins, twins!” people know what we do and what we’re about? And now they do!
Images via GSN TV
More from BUST