Stay Alive
Frankie Muniz, Samaire Armstrong, Sophia Bush, Jon Foster, Adam Goldberg
Directed By:
William Brent Bell

With so many other horror genre storytelling standards being overused to the point of dilution, it was time for someone to try and introduce a more modern means by which to initiate a series of teen deaths, peppered with a lot of cheap scares. To this effect, we have Stay Alive, which is obviously trying to take a visual medium, videogames, and attach a monstrous Ring-like curse to it.

The story begins with the murder of Hutch (Foster) MacNeil's friend Loomis, who is found hanging in his home. Of course, some of his belongings find their way into Hutch's hands, including a game called Stay Alive that Loomis was playing before his death. Having no problem with the morbidity of it all, Hutch and his stereotypical friends (the goth, the geek, the unwashed gamer) all decide to play this game.

Of course, they quickly find out that when they die in the game, they die in real life. With very little research, they discover that the monster in the game is Countess Bathory, who was notorious for draining young women to regain her youth. Apparently, she's locked up in a tower in Louisiana and the game is a representation of where she's located.

Honestly, the story for this movie is filled with holes and inaccuracies. So many, in fact, that one has to wonder if anyone outside of the director read the whole thing. There's no explanation how the game was made, how it got into the hands of Loomis and how any of the events resolved after the monster is finally defeated. With how poorly the movie is edited, it's hard to believe there's actually a coherent story to be told here.

Also, when it comes to the videogame aspect of the movie, it feels rather cheap and sloppy. Names of games are dropped (Fatal Frame, Q-Bert) in the flow of conversation and when two of the actors talk about a game (Silent Hill 4), the whole of the conversation feels as if it were written by someone who has never even played the game. Considering that Cliff "CliffyB" Bleszinski is credited as a consultant on this movie, I still have to wonder how they got it so wrong.

Ultimately, this movie is largely a giant advertisement, with tons of screen time for game-boxes, controllers and even the customized gaming laptop from a company who I won't mention because they already got more than enough worth from their screen time.

Acting-wise, I'm sure there is some talent here, but it's lost behind a bad script and worse directing. Its hard to sympathize with characters that have paper thin motives and event fall in love with each other at the drop of the hat. The ending portion of the movie is so badly done that any depth created by the actors is squandered.

And, then there's the graphics of the game and monsters, all which look pretty mediocre. It's like they took later 90's era computer graphics and thought that it would be great for the real world visuals. There are a few cheap scares in the movie, but these are certainly not from the visuals.

Stay Alive is obviously some movie studio's attempt to cash in on the growing videogame playing demographic without actually having a license to exploit. Because of this, the movie feels more like a stereotypical mess that makes gamers look like complete sociopaths. Not that kind of message you want to send about your target audience, eh?

- - Vane

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