Director: William Brent Bell
Starring: Samaire Armstrong, Sophia Bush,
RunTime: 1 hr 26 mins
Released By: UIP
Rating: PG (Horror and Some Sexual References)
Day: 28 September 2006
pop culture-laden fright-fest takes the legend of Countess
Elizabeth Bathory of Hungary and relocates it in the inherently
creepy locale of New Orleans. The usual cast of motley and
none-too-bright teenagers is assembled and attached to quirky
names--smartass Phineas (Jimmi Simpson) and his Goth-girl
sister, October (Sophia Bush), hunky protagonist Hutch (Jon
Foster), and tech-head Swink (Frankie Muniz), to name a few--and
they all have one thing in common: the love of gaming. When
Hutch’s best friend Loomis (Milo Ventimiglia) is a victim
in a violent massacre, Hutch ends up with the game he was
playing just before he died. Called "Stay Alive,"
the game is technically illegal and Hutch and his friends
can’t resist booting it up. The game resurrects the
Countess, who centuries ago was walled up in her tower when
her crimes were discovered (she is said to have brutally murdered
650 servant girls and bathed in their blood). Now, she is
fulfilling her vow to return to reassume her reign of terror.
This time, however, her victims are gamers who will die in
the same way in life as they do in the game.
the bandwagon of the burgeoning subculture of gamers and the
advent of next-gen games is the survival horror movie, Stay
Alive. Cutting to the chase, it’s a veritable The Ring
(the remake) rip-off. The bare bones of its premise is a videogame
that when played, kills its players in real-life as it does
in the game. It’s aggravatingly similar. Right down
to its typically over-employed ghoul: the grayish-toned longhaired
girl who crawls on all fours with the oft-used cut-motion
editing (who’s her agent anyway?).
as generic and harmless as it can possibly get, especially
when it looks like our local media authorities are passing
this through with a relatively unrestrictive rating (it was
released domestically in the US with a PG-13) which should
have already heralded the dreck that is to come. Ultimately
Stay Alive is just like cinematic fast food, you know its
not good for you but it’s just a quick fix to get you
through the paltry pickings in the cinemas.
a brief list of rules that these modern teen-slasher flicks
usually abide by:
sure to have an over-emphasised set-up that doesn’t
seem worth the effort when it fails to pay off at the end
in a meaningful way.
a romance between the female and male lead at the worst possible
time in the movie.
actors from television shows (The OC, One Tree Hill, Malcolm
in the Middle, Life As We Know It), aimed at bringing in some
of their fanfare. Then promptly obliterate any sense of individuality
and dress them up indistinguishably at the expense of character
bring together a group of teenagers to take it upon themselves
to investigate the death of a mutual friend.
the absolute worst possible thing at the most desperate situation.
the characters freak out and blame each other for their predicament
Internet provides ALL the answers everytime.
police should never be smarter than a group of smart-alecky
slackers and as a bonus, must always be jerks.
sure to always show your lead’s chiselled body in a
non-sexual way that should still end up seeming somewhat sensual.
characters are killed, see to it that the survivors grief
for a minute then move on swiftly to the next scene, never
mentioning them again.
problem in this celluloid drivel is that the characters are
downright unlikable, possibly to the extent of making a mockery
(stereotypes) out of the vast populace of the gaming culture.
With its despicable characterisation, you will find yourself
rooting for half the cast to bite the dust. Aside from a singular
character, played thankfully with a certain measure of moxie
by Sophia Bush, these schmucks turn out to be cardboard caricatures
that fall flat on their faces (literally at one point).
significant problem with the film’s story would be that
the game cheats. What does that mean for the movie? Well,
basically it indicates that its already weak concept has failed.
Horribly. If the film doesn’t follow the rules it has
set, it leaves its audience with yet another slasher-after-teenager
movie with a barely tenable supernatural element.
the game seems to be somewhat buggy, leaving a rather gaping
loophole with the Frankie Muniz character in the game and
the analogous real life situation. Unfortunately, it’s
just one of the plot holes caused by its shoddy screenplay.
Even the least discerning moviegoer will leave the cinemas
wondering if they’d dozed off midway through. It won’t
be a surprise given its boring and all too predictable death
scenes, entirely devoid of tension and suspense.
a dizzying array of product placements that are apparently
synonymous with videogame players (and just how do these people
actually afford a fully-furnished apartment with multiple
LCD monitors and numerous Alienware merchandise), this film
proves to be nothing but a shill itself – another product
in the long run of also-ran scare-traps churned out by film
studios. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this dour
experience is the gameplay footage of the fictional game.
A cross between Resident Evil 4 and Fatal Frame, I’d
gladly take home that game if released, instead of insulting
trash like its namesake movie.
would recommend an actual videogame instead)
by Justin Deimen