10 Best Elevator Scenes In Horror Movie History

These scenes are scary on so many different levels!

Dark Water 2002
Oz Films

Elevators have the potential to trigger many phobias in people. They are confined, small spaces, often crowded in with other people closer than we feel comfortable. Then there is the potential of being stuck if they break down, and also the chance of them malfunctioning, with cables snapping, deadly falls or hydraulic doors crushing anything trapped between them.

However, we accept all these risks for the convenience they provide, making them the perfect setting for horror movies as people regularly, willingly, put themselves in this potentially deadly scenario.

Several films are set almost entirely in elevators, such as Devil, Down and Blackout. These films all explore the way people react to each other when in a confined space with nowhere to run. They also highlight the fact that you often don’t know who you are getting into an elevator with, and the consequences of getting stuck with someone with nefarious intentions.

This list focuses on films that have one specific scene set in an elevator and how this is used especially well for horror purposes, either to build tension, highlight our phobias, or by using their heavy mechanical features to cause physical injury.

10. Dressed To Kill (1980)

Dark Water 2002
Filmways Pictures

One of Michael Caine's lesser-known roles, this film has a very effective tense elevator scene early on. The dramatic music, overacting, bright red blood effects and clever use of mirrors make it compelling watching.

Bored housewife Kate goes out to find a sexual liaison when her therapist Dr Elliott rejects her advances. After she leaves the apartment of the man she met, she realises she has forgotten her wedding ring and takes the elevator back up to retrieve it.

When the doors open, a blonde transgender woman wearing sunglasses strides into the lift and starts attacking her with a large razor. As the doors close, we see the attack continue in the elevator mirror at the top corner.

The doors open again and a couple encounter Kate lying on the floor, covered in blood and reaching out to them. The man runs away but the woman stays and starts to reach out to her as we watch the attacker hiding behind the door getting ready to slice her hand as it comes through the door.

Suddenly the woman sees the attacker in the mirror and jumps her hand back, and the razor drops, which she manages to grab, as the doors close again.

Michael Caine played Dr Elliott and his murderous alter-ego ‘Bobbi’ who kills any woman he finds attractive in a similar manner to Norman Bates in Psycho.


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