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Choose or Die review: Netflix takes the fun out of a killer video game

First in Netflix’s Proudly Derivative New Thriller Choose or die, a kitchen knife-wielding mother argues with her teenage son over his father’s obsession with the 1980s. The reclusive father (Eddie Marsan) hides in his cave, a lined room. with a classic game console. He sees his vintage calculator blinking green until it shows a question: “His tongue or her ears? Choose or die. What at first seems like a sick role-playing game turns to a terrifying reality: The choice he makes will materialize into a real punishment inflicted on his wife or son. .

The cult of the 1980s – trends and pop culture, especially film and music – is reframed to lead to terrifying endings in Toby Meakins’ Choose or die. Unlike, say, Ready Player One, Simon Allen’s Letter of Light does not quite worship on the altar of the decade. Sure enough, the public reference to A Nightmare on Elm Street, Gary Newman, and industrial music artist Fad Gadget thrive throughout the film. The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett even provided the film’s composite score. But Meakins and Allen wanted to question the innate terror of being single in the past. It’s a clever lesson overshadowed by a puzzling scenario that makes Allen feel like he’s over-indulging in his self-perceived importance.

In its basic features, the premise is an even worse behavior Jumanji. Three months after the film’s opening events, Kayla (Iola Evans) leaves her labor job to clean an empty office building called “Kismet”. She is a recent college dropout who loves motherboards and coding, looking for a programming job while caring for her ailing mother, who is addicted to illegal drugs. determined. The pair have not been the same since Kayla’s younger brother drowned in a local swimming pool. When Kayla is not at home, she hangs out with a programmer and game designer, the shy, infatuated Isaac (Asa Butterfield).

Eddie Marsan in a dark, barely perceptible cave full of equipment in Choose or Die

Photo: Cursr Films

While sifting through Isaac’s recent rummages, Kayla discovered an old game called “Curse > CHEAP. It promises a grand prize of $125,000 for the winner. When she called the hotline, she was greeted by the voice of Nightmare on Elm Street star Robert Englund, guest-starred himself. Believing that the defunct game might still have potential for money, Kayla repairs and plays it, leading to a series of gruesome events that put her and everyone around her in danger.

At the 84th minute, Choose or die is a whip movie based on fast and powerful storytelling. Evans, an unexpected newcomer, imbues Kayla with a rich inner life. She was a mess of stress and fatigue, all evident in her tough face. Her performance begs the other actors around her to feel similarly elevated, a request the film fails to fulfill because of its uncomfortably simple. In that regard, one of the movie’s biggest offenders is the character Lance (Ryan Gage), who may work in the building, possibly have an affair with Kayla’s mother, and certainly is her dealer, but languishing like an almost unbelievable trash predator cartoon.

Given the agglomeration and small scale of the film – there are only a few series, which can make filming the pandemic easier – Kayla and Isaac’s relationship needs to continue the story. But their weak interpersonal dynamics build credibility. For example, at a diner, Kayla touches Curse > CHEAP game. As she played, she noticed how it could distort reality through her in-game choices, causing a waitress to swallow a glass. (The ASMR sound design in this scene is amazing.)

The incident leaves her shaken and desperate for answers about the game’s origins. When a confused Isaac promised to find an answer, she scoffed, “Yeah, just do it. You are so smart. “It was never clear why she was so belligerent. She’s unknowingly cruel to Isaac, which raises questions about how the two ever met, or whether they’re still friends. That omission makes any romance between them seem like an unwarranted development.

Choose or die It’s best when Allen and Meakins happily design scares based on Kayla’s grief over her brother’s death. A gathering place, adorned with mist and flashes of blue light, takes place in an abandoned swimming pool. It has some of the best splash scenes of the movie, as the sound takes over the audience’s obscured vision. In this fear, which leaves Kayla traumatized and makes an impossible decision around her brother’s ghost, it’s clear that Meakins wants to explain the pitfalls that come from her past life and how those woes Unresolved snacks can eat humans. If the movie stays on this list, it will suffice as an emotional allegory. But Meakins and Allen couldn’t be left alone.

Ioanna Kimbook as Grace makes a dramatic raise of hands in another dark, dirty scene from Netflix's Choose or Die.

Photo: Cursr Films

The last act of Choose or die flew off the rails because the filmmakers tried to attach logic to their absurd notions. That’s a strange move, considering Jumanji, for example, thrived on the unexplained mystery of the boardgame’s origins. Instead, the filmmakers attached a malicious plot to the game that only messed up the mood and tone. They continue to reach depth through Kayla’s confrontation with the proverbial final boss, a totem version of a fragile white man alarmed by his thirst for day-to-day cultural diversity. society and the idea that people like him baffled people of color rather than white horsemen, riding horses to save the day. “Aren’t people like me allowed to be heroes anymore?” he gritted his teeth. That line ends with a nudge in an ending that goes too far in itself, too serious for a movie that offers so little setup for such a large representative statement.

Meakins’ Choose or die could easily become the next hilarious horror series, starting from where the Saw or Escape Room series left off. But the creator’s quest for deeper meaning feels tense and overwhelming, and it overwhelms the adventurous spirit of the first half of the film. If so, this is at least a great starting point for Evans, who never wavers, even when everything around her is.

Choose or die currently streaming on Netflix.

https://www.polygon.com/23027310/choose-or-die-review-netflix Choose or Die review: Netflix takes the fun out of a killer video game

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