| Stay Alive (2006) |
When I first popped Stay Alive into my DVD player I was hopefully optimistic, it had gained many negative reviews from critics, but the subject matter seemed appealing to me. With many modern horror movies being tired cliches or sequels I was eager to see how entertaining a movie about a killer video game might be...
The truth is, not very... It has its strong points and weak points, but I'll start at the beginning. We are first introduced to a videogame character moving through a haunted mansion who quickly meets his end at the hands of a powerful enemy and the game flashes a game over screen. The camera then shifts to the man who played the game, apparently quite disturbed, but sure that there is nothing to be concerned about.
He quickly meets his own fate in the same manner as his character... hung to death after falling through a railing. Cut to one of his friends who finds out he's dead and shows up at his funeral, unknowingly receving the game from his sister. Deciding that the best way to honor his memory would be a game session with all of his friends he boots up the game and they begin to play... and die one by one, exactly as they did in the game...
I won't lie, the movie has several major flaws, but managed to keep me entertained enough to see it to the end. There are a few stereotypes and double standards here, but mostly just minor annoying ones (one of the players is an obnoxious manchild with a smarter sister, but its not really any worse than many other movies and shows today so I just ignored it). The biggest issue I had by far was the lack of research done by the movie's producers.
For example, characters make references to cheat codes and levels that don't made sense, the game was apparently made by a single man instead of a team of developers, and several scenes are just impossible given what type of equipment they are using. Really, if they had spent a bit more time fine-tuning their unrealistic portrayal of how multiplayer and other things worked the movie would have turned out a lot better.
While the lack of believibility didn't do too much to hinder my enjoyment of the film, hardcore gamers will probably be yelling at their TVs before its over. That said, it did have a few strong points I feel many other people overlooked. The original concept did a pretty good job of blending the supernatural with technology, with mystical knowlage helping the players in game and out. Plus the players who live and die are both male and female, providing a bit of gender equality instead of simply having all the men die.
Earlier I mentioned that there were a few male stereotypes to sour the mood a bit, yet the villian really helped to make up for it. Ever hear of Elizabeth Bathory? She is one of the most famous female serial killers in history and murdered well over a hundred victims before being brought to justice. Naturally, the move portrays her as unsympathetic as possible.
Her motives are never made clear other than simple psychotic bloodlust. She doesn't have anything to gain, she doesn't have a tragic backstory to make us feel sorry for her, she doesn't have any positive characteristics, and she is treated exactly as the monster she is, unlike so many other movies I have seen with a female villain.
Do I recomend seeing it? Well, it has a lot of adult content, so you probably won't be watching this one with the kiddies. Many gamers will likey laugh at the misinformation the creators must have been given and nongamers will probably think the concept is too silly or stupid... I guess if you are the type of person who likes videogames and doesn't take things too seriously you'll probably enjoy it, just don't expect something like Avatar or The Godfather. Really, the audience seems very small and specific to me. Not horrible, but not really good either.
If you want high quality entertainment, look elsewhere. If you want to see a somewhat cheesy horror movie thats a change of pace and doesn't dip too deep in male bashing you should give it a look. Just make sure you rent it instead of buying it, unless you're a diehard fan it simply isn't worth it.
- Reviewed by Midnight Undead
Rated: PG-13 (horror violence, disturbing images, language, and brief sexual and drug content).
Duration: 1 hour and 25 minutes