Originally an edgy ‘Curs<r’, Choose or Die’ is the title of Netflix’s latest in-house horror movie. It’s also the ultimatum forced upon the movie’s characters while playing a sinister retro text-adventure game that was unearthed from a pile of long-forgotten relics of yesteryear.
When Isaac (Asa Butterfield, Sex Education) and his friend/crush, Kayla (Iola Evans, The 100) find a sinister looking retro text-adventure style game, they are intrigued. Pushed further into the decision by a promised prize of $125,000, Kayla loads the game up and begins to settle into what she believes to be just an old game. However, the truth is far more malign.
A Game with a Mind of its Own
While playing the first level, Kayla quickly comes to the realization that Curs<r is far more than a game. The twisted reality comes to her as she sees a diner waitress break a number of glasses before falling on the to the shards with her knees and begins to eat the sharp glass – unable to stop herself.
Unable to stop playing the game due to it forcibly opening on every futile attempt, Kayla quickly realizes that in there’s only one way to stop the nightmarish events unfolding; to beat the game.
A Cheap Storyline, Saved by Gore
Yes, the storyline surrounding Choose or Die is a ticky-tacky monorail ride that has so often been visited in earlier movies; a video-game-meets-reality merging that often fails to live up to the full potential. Regardless of the cheesy narrative, it’s one that allows for the escape from reality and opens up a limitless potential for gore and horror.
The result, in this case, is some beautifully bloody moments that wouldn’t have been otherwise impossible in a premise closer to reality.
Retro Splendour – A Walk down Memory Lane
If one thing can be said for Choose or Die, it’s the constant revisiting of early video games. With ample clichés and tropes from the bygone era of gaming thrown in, the movie really does offer the older viewer more than a few blasts from the long-forgotten past.
Choose or Die and its Peculiar Choice of Casting
Despite my love for Netflix’s comedy, Sex Education and Asa Butterfield, I can never get my head around the use of English actors in American productions and, of course, vice-versa. With plenty of talent available in both the British and American pools, it’s unnecessary and seldom works.
To add insult to injury, Netflix chose to use a predominantly British cast and give them American accents. It just makes little sense to me when the movie would have worked with a different cast; or even, on that note, as a British flick.
With that being said both performances from the leading actors were pretty solid, albeit with terrible attempts at generic American accents.
Summary – Was Choose or Die a Hit?
Choose or Die is one of those movies that I can’t really decide on. On one hand, we have the glorious flashbacks of retro goodness; on the other, we have a weak storyline and bad accents, both of which could have been avoidable.
All in all (despite the accents), the lead actors both showed excellent portrayals of their characters. With Iola Evans – playing Layla – being a veteran actress on the TV show, The 100, she was in clear readiness for a feature-length movie. Asa Butterfield has also had notable roles in larger movies. This was noticeable throughout the 84-minutes of runtime Choose or Die blessed/cursed us with.
The retro appeal and deliciously gory kills are the saving graces of Choose or Die. In fact, they even bring the otherwise shoddy movie on to my list of recommendations. If you can see past the cheesy, time-served plot then this movie is definitely worth a viewing. However, I can’t see any awards on the way for Netflix’s latest horror movie.
In a nutshell: if you’re a fan of creative kills and stomach-churning gore, this movie is for you. However, if a deep intricate storyline is what rocks your boat, avoid Choose or Die at all costs. There’s very little thought needed and the plot is far from fresh.
There is, however, a cameo that will interest all fans of horror. I won’t give it away here, but you’ll see (or hear, at least).
Choose or Die is available now on Netflix. Will you watch it? Choose or die. Not really. I just thought that would have been a fitting way to end this.