Video Games, the multibillion-dollar industry, pushing the boundaries of interactive art and entertainment. That even today some people just don’t understand, all those onlookers see are young kids being sucked away into an artificial world. Admittedly that can be scary, and a lucrative platform for horror. In 2006, the terror that could reach out from the consoles and T.V. screens, striking at any time or anywhere, made for an entertaining horror film in Stay Alive.
When Loomis and his roommates die violently, the police think little of it, yet his friend Hutch still wants answers. His death is eerily similar to the death of his character in a video game he was beta testing, one with the inciting title of Stay Alive. During his grief, Hutch sets out to play the game himself, though he is joined by a couple of his friends who muscle in on the playthrough, they will all soon wish they hadn’t. One by one they meet similar demises to their characters, as it becomes a race against time to get to the bottom of the bizarre deaths, before it is game over for all of them.
The viewer is treated to ample footage of the game, and those who derive fun from seeing the comical mismatched technology might be a tad disappointed. For the year it was released, the graphics look comparable to the technology of the era. No outlandish sights like playing an N.E.S. game with a PlayStation 4 controller, or other elements of the artistic license that the media indulges. Despite its literal switching of first and third-person perspective, and the necessity to recite a blood oath before playing, it seems like Stay Alive would be a fun title. But enough about the fictional game, for those wanting a spooky slasher to startle, will find a lot to like in this film.
The film wisely doesn’t rest on its cyberspace laurels and manages to conceive of a lot of ways to keep the terror away from the controller. Basing the game and subsequent real-world terror on the grizzly legend of Elizabeth Bathory, adding a fun accent to the lore, especially with the ways they manage to transpose the tale to the United States. As a slasher (one of Disney’s only) the film is full of recognisable stock characters and their demises. One sequence that jumps to mind is the death of Phineus and it was nice seeing Jimmi Simpson, in an earlier role, as this film does have some similar apprehension to the show Black Mirror. Other notable appearances include the likes of Frankie Muniz as nerdy Swink, along with an extended blink or you’ll miss him appearance from Adam Goldberg.
Those who want to sit down and lose themselves in a tale of cyber spookery won’t be disappointed. Stay Alive is a jump scare laden, popcorn chomping horror film, that has a lot of fun with its unique premise. If you can get over some dated tech, you can come to value the slasher reach its conclusions, while recognising some up-and-coming stars in some of their earlier roles. Whether playing it co-op, online, or solo, maybe you can sit back, relax, and take the time to see if you can Stay Alive.
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