Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
William Brent Bell
What's it about
A group of hard-core gamers discover an underground game that could be actually killing them.
Is it good movie?
The pitch for Stay Alive must have gone like this. ďThe Ring becomes a video game.Ē Sold! Yes, thatís the basic ingenious plot behind this brain numbing film. Stay Alive is bad, but not because of production, not because of direction, not because of acting, but from a pathetic plot. Really people, did someone actually read this script and think, wow, we need this up on the big screen? These actors were either duped or drugged into thinking they were making something good. Director William Brent Bell made a crap sandwich here. Slap a little lettuce and mayo on it and it looks great, but one bite into it leaves you less than satisfied. And thatís too bad. Stay Alive looks great. Most scenes are darkly lit and blackened around the edges of the screen to give that horror movie quality. The bad guys look scary, but thereís no meat to them. The acting is quite good too, though Adam Goldberg is completely wasted. The end nearly saves it, but who cares by that point.
The leads characters are gamers. The villain is an animated lady from the 17th century named the Blood Countess. All deaths that occur (and there are a lot of them) happen nearly simultaneously on the game and real life. You know a movie lacks horror when the most frightening aspect is the actual video game, in which we are given a first person perspective (just like in real games!). Perhaps someone in Hollywood will smarten up and see two things. One, gamers are not all dorks (i.e. Frankie Muniz). Two, just go ahead and make a balls to the wall computer animated horror film that can go places traditional flicks cannot. Thatís what this film nearly did. Each scene where we were placed in the game was more horrifying than anything else. It attempted to bridge the gap between games and movies, but it tried too hard to get there. If we can make 37 quality computer animated kids films a year, why not try a true video game horror in the style that made them popular in the first place?
Video / Audio
Video Widescreen (2:35:1)
AudioDolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Visual Effects Reel: A few minutes of visual effects that play like a techno video. Nothing too grand here as there is no explanation as to what's we see. Basically just a mass of random crap put rave music. I would have been more interested in seeing how they created the video game aspect.
Interactive Bonus Menus: Build a character and do something with it, but lost interest. You're supposed design a specific character in order to unlock something super special. Yawn.
Filmmaker Commentary: A good one with director Bell and co-writer Matthew Peterman bantering back and forth. Though itís scary when they drop Hitchcock references. These guys should maybe focus on the story before the angles.
Uncut Version: If you were a fan of the theater release, this extended version includes new characters and an entire new subplot which, of course, doesn't help the film too much.
Stay Alive teases viewers with a lot of freakiní potential, but alas, it goes straight down the olí toilet with a script that is beyond stupid. I love horror that strives to stand out, however, this thing does anything but. If something is this lackluster, at least throw in some dipping boom mics so we can laugh at something.