Choose or Die (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Choose or Die (2022) Review

Horrorific content by christina on May 07th, 2022 | Movie Review | Cursed, Supernatural, Drama, Thriller, Teen, Dysfunctional Family, Survival Game, B-Horror

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A broke college student unleashes a deadly curse stored in an old computer game.

Choose or Die (2022) was directed by Toby Meakins and stars Asa Butterfield, Iola Evans, Eddie Marsan, Robert Englund, Kate Fleetwood, Ryan Gage, Angela Griffin, and Joe Bolland.

Choose or Die Review

Netflix's "Choose or Die" is heavily inspired by the film "A Nightmare on Elm Street" in its tone, style, and visuals. The film's influences and retro 80's video game horror conceit draw from the past, but the teen horror movie wants to move away from nostalgia and focus on being fun and mean-spirited.

Kayla works on a cleaning crew at night and tinkers with coding or tries to make money by selling retro computer equipment to her friend Isaac by day. She lives in a rugged area and has difficulty keeping up while her mom becomes more depressed from loss and turns to drugs to cope. Unfortunately, they can't afford prescriptions. Kalya discovers an old text-based computer game, Curs>r, at Isaac's shop that promises a fortune if the player can survive a reality-bending curse for five days. The young coder quickly realizes the game is not joking when it prompts "choose or die."

Director Toby Meakins' debut feature contrasts the rundown urban setting of Kayla with the bright, neon-hued world of the Curs>r game. Jonathan Howells' design and graphics for the game are notably impressive and provide a significant visual contrast. The graphics in the game are pretty vivid, and they gradually seep into Kayla's reality. Each new night of terror brings different visuals that help keep the game fresh and avoid any sense of repetition or stagnation. The innovative use of graphics in scene transitions allows Meakins to suggest horror rather than show it, cleverly working around any budgetary constraints.

Evans is an excellent lead in the teenage horror movie. She convincingly portrays Kayla's rougher aspects; constant confrontations with mom's sleazy drug dealer mean Kayla has to be tough when necessary. Guilt and responsibility for an ill mom highlight Kayla's more compassionate side and weaknesses. Evans gives an emotionally engaging performance, even when her character's potential romance with Isaac feels small compared to the horror surrounding them. The film takes its time to build tension until the subsequent fateful game encounter.

The stakes gradually become higher as the game progresses in video game fashion, leading to a satisfying conclusion. The game is very violent and chaotic, and it's refreshing that the story doesn't try to make things better. The challenges remain throughout, and the film never uses the video game reality as an easy way out.

Worth Watching?

Choose or Die is a great horror movie for teens who are just getting into the genre. It has a simple plot executed well, with some nice stylistic touches. The pacing is fast and keeps the tension and stakes building throughout. Despite being a great teen heroine, Kayla's story never delves too deep below the surface, leaving behind themes like eschewing nostalgia or the burdens of the family mostly unexplored. Unfortunately, answers to the game come in a dizzyingly fast exposition dump. You might be disappointed if you're looking for Robert Englund (Freddy Kreuger) to have a starring role. However, it's a fun and entertaining movie for horror fans or those who enjoy video games.

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