When GSN announced its new reality game show Hellevator earlier this summer, I was genuinely looking forward to it. It’s been too long since we’ve had a reality format that incorporated horror—remember MTV’s Fear?—and making reality TV challenges scary is intriguing. So did the format for this show, on which only one team member tries to complete a task before racing to get back on the elevator in time.
Then I saw this horrifying ad for Hellevator on television, which seems more like genuine terror and/or torture porn than a good-natured scare:
Not okay: that person does not sound okay, and I was not okay listening to that. And I am a person who enjoys looking at those photos of people who are freaked out in a haunted house.
Produced by Matador, which produces the fun Lip Sync Battle, and Blumhouse Productions, which is behind Paranormal Activity, The Purge, and Insidious, among other movies, Hellevator “dares contestants to survive a series of challenges from the depths of an abandoned slaughterhouse,” according to GSN.
Of course, this is cable television, so no one is not going to survive. Here’s how the game works, again, according to GSN’s release:
“a team of three friends rides a haunted elevator into various levels of the abandoned slaughterhouse. One player must get out on each floor and conquer a frightening challenge in order to earn money for the team. If they don’t make it back in time, the elevator moves on without them. Participants can earn up to $50,000 by properly completing their challenges, including the final challenge ‘The Labyrinth’ where the surviving contestants work together to face their most difficult and terrifying challenge in a mad-dash race to accumulate more money. Horror film icons Jen and Sylvia Soska, aka the ‘Twisted Twins’ serve as masterminds behind the scenes, pulling the strings throughout the game, taking delight in the horror and leaving contestants struggling to remember it’s just a game.”
While that seems like it’s just typical press release hyperbole, maybe it’s not. But I don’t know if I have the stomach to watch and hear people who are that terrified, screaming for help and being ignored. I may still watch when it premieres, but if this is anything close to what each challenge is like, I won’t be watching for long.