Choose or Die is a slick horror rehash that surprisingly works despite its obvious faults.
This review of the Netflix film Choose or Die does not contain spoilers.
We won’t sit around and sell you a line of bullshit here at Ready Steady Cut, the worldwide leader in streaming coverage. Either we like a film or don’t. We try to highlight what a movie or television series does well or badly. I try to do that and attach a big old snark cannon to it. That was going through my head while watching Choose or Die, a new Netflix horror film streaming today. Not much of it makes sense, especially when you combine coding with supernatural horror tropes. In fact, nothing seems to connect or make sense in terms of plot. What you have is the equivalent of a good two-part X-Files episode. But ask yourself this — is that a bad thing?
There is a creepy, palpable tone and feeling in Toby Meakins’ film. I frequently caught myself looking through my fingers at the screen without realizing it. Like Chris Carter’s episodic cult hit, Choose or Die has moments that have tension-building suspense and an underlying mystery that can be used for future installments. The script by Simon Allen uses a story-building device of gaming and coding as each level tries to top the one prior while keeping the film’s mystery. Even though it doesn’t quite make sense, it surprisingly works.
We have a broke college student, Kayla (The 100’s Iola Evans). She is scrounging up money to finish her dream of being a coder and help support her drug addict mother. They are both suffering because of the recent loss of Kayla’s brother. While visiting her friend Isacc (Hugo’s Asa Butterfield), he receives a 1980s horror computer game that she had never heard of. She takes it because if she wins, it promises her a cool $100,000. Soon, her nightmares become realities. Kayla is caught in a deadly game. She is given a choice from a supernatural source. She must choose between two choices with dangerous consequences for her and anyone around her.
Choose or Die (originally titled CURS>R) is the type of horror film designed to create a cult following with a younger demographic. The type of viewer that doesn’t realize it is really a slick homage to cult 80s films such as Nightmares and heavily influenced by my more of a modern horror thriller like Escape Room. There are still the classic horror tropes, like when the heroine includes people she loves without realizing she is putting them in danger. Yet, it really lacks certain originality to reach that status, but has enough to keep you guessing and entertained.
Still, Choose or Die’s slick repackaging, some truly super-cool set pieces, and refusing to placate audiences with a plot that never quite fits is refreshing. Meakins’ film may feel fresh like when Scott Boilen decided to sell fluffy robes to people and rebranded them as blankets with sleeves, but it satisfies the urge of horror-thriller fans that dig the genre. It has satisfying closure but leaves endless possibilities. Oh, and maniacal Eddie Marsen is never a bad idea.
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