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Film Reviews

Review: Choose or Die. An interesting take on gaming

  • Release year: 2022
  • Director: Toby Meakins.
  • Producers: Mathew James Wilkinson, Sebastien Raybaud and John Zois.
  • Screenplay by: Simon Allen.
  • Cinematographer: Catherine Derry.
  • Music by: Liam Howlett.

Synopsis: Kayla (Iola Evans) finds an eighties video game based on two option choices. She starts playing and finds out her decisions in the videogame happen in real life with horrible consequences, so with her friend’s help she tries to find out how the game works and how to stop it from hurting more people.

Shotgun commentary: It’s a curious and entertaining movie that pours the theme of video games into a horror movie plot. Not too scary, but interesting enough to watch it to the end.

Isaac walking through a creepy corridor lit by red lights.
Fig. 1. Isaac (Asa Butterfield), Kayla’s friend, going through a creepy red-lit corridor. Source: Choose or Die (Toby Meakins, 2022).

Review

It’s an entertaining movie. However, it overuses the ingestion of stuff that’s not supposed to be ingested as a way to instil fear in the audiences. The first couple of times it’s really effective, but by the third time they repeat the same strategy you kinda wonder whether they actually put thought into the horror factor of the film or they just invested all their time and energy in the video game aspect.

The main character, Grace, tries to save her waitress from eating glass.
Fig. 2. Kayla tries to help Grace (Ioanna Kimbook) when she starts eating glass. Source: Choose or Die (Toby Meakins, 2022).

As for the characters themselves, the cast as well as their performances and their style are on point.

Fictional problems, real people

They are young people playing characters their age who live very credible and common lives: they wear clothes people with their purchasing power can afford, no makeup because they are not going anywhere fancy and an easy everyday hairstyle. All of this combined with amazing performances that shine in their remoteness from overacting (a very widespread issue among young actors), makes empathising with them a natural reaction.

Isaac and Kayla arrive at a haunted pool created by the evil videogame.
Fig. 3. Isaac and Kayla arrive at a pool created by the videogame.
Source: Choose or Die (Toby Meakins, 2022).

Netflix aesthetics

As for the imagery, it is beautiful and flawless. Every light, shadow and colour is on point, resulting in very vibrant and expressive shots. It is something very Netflix-like so it’s not really a surprise, however, that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile.

Isaac listening to the noises coming from behind the walls.
Frame selected for the review of Choose or Die.
Fig. 4. Isaac listening to the noises coming from behind the walls. Source: Choose or Die (Toby Meakins, 2022).

There are, however, a couple of problems in the whole experience.

Plot holes & advertising miscalculations

The first one is in the plot: the circumstances surrounding Ricky’s demise aare quite unclear. First of all, was there no lifeguard at the pool? And secondly, what’s the meaning of the mother’s recording if it’s not his last moments? What’s its contribution to the story?

The second issue has nothing to do with the movie itself and more to do with the careless Netflix advertising. It really ruins the mood when Kayla has to choose between saving her friend’s life or her brother’s and you already know what’s going to happen because Netflix’s advertising captions show the saved guy and Kayla in a setting that has not yet been shown in the movie. It’s not a very terrible spoiler, but it reduces the thrill of that scene significantly. Please Netflix, stick to the promotional posters.

The videogame making Kayla choose between her friend or her brother, frame selected for the review of Choose or Die.
Fig. 5. The videogame making Kayla choose between her friend or her brother, a bit of a lazily planned situation as explained in this review of Choose or Die. Source: Choose or Die (Toby Meakins, 2022).

What’s your take on this Choose or Die and this review?

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