2 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Stay Alive (2006)
Pretty Fun, don't take it too seriously...
8 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
OK, I actually just saw the movie today and I gotta say: it's not too bad. Yeah, it's not that scary and while the script in and of itself is mildly (very mildly) original, the dialogue and the reactions of the gamers remains hopelessly cliché. That is the world of horror, unfortunately. So, why do I like this movie? Because I didn't go to get scared (obviously, the movie is PG-13), I didn't go to critique it, though I guess that's what I'm doing now. I went to get a good hour and a half of entertainment. And, boy, was I entertained.

Let's start with the premise of the movie. A group of attractive 20-something gamers find this new, underground video game called "Stay Alive" where the objective is the title. Despite the fact that the main character's friend died shortly after playing it, the gamers decide to give it a go. They find the effects creepy and fulfilling, but the fun ends there when one of their group, the main character's boss, dies in exactly the same way as his avatar in the game. It just escalates from there. Now, I'm a big fan of games with an interesting plot, so if this were a game, I would totally play it.

A lot of people were complaining about the CG effects. I liked them. It was supposed to look like a video game. I realize the normal route was to have these characters look real when they step off the computer screen, but I thought it looked so much cooler when it seemed like the game itself was killing you. Some of it seemed far too reminiscent of Japanese horror, but considering that's the trend these days, I let it go. Overall, I loved the fact that the demon children and the crazy Countess looked exactly like the game until the very end.

The characters themselves were fun. You had the goth chick, but what I liked about her was that she wasn't the stereotypical "I'm creepy and dark and depressed" chick that always seems to grace these movies. Then there was her brother, whom I was alternating between laughing at and wanting to hit. The main character, Hutch, I believe, was cute enough that I didn't really care whether or not he was cool. Swink, played by Frankie Muniz, was utterly adorable. The only one that I didn't get was the blonde, Abigail. Why the hell was she there? To create suspense, to be another love interest for Hutch? I really wanted her to be evil. That would have made so much sense in the long run. I mean, she shows up at Loomis' funeral and suddenly becomes buddies with Hutch and then later his new girlfriend after the goth chick dies. That entire relationship I could have done without. I would have absolutely LOVED it if she turned out to be some psycho obsessed with the game or something. But, whatever. She was decent, too.

The only part of the movie that I didn't like, which always drives me nuts, is the fact that they never mention why and how the game was created. The company, apparently, was the plantation itself, but who made it? The Countess? That doesn't make sense to me. I get the idea of mixing an old ghost story with today's technology. I find that fascinating. But how does a Civil War-era ghost come up with the idea of making a video game to further her evil purpose and then manage to go through with it? Also, how did she manage to distribute it after she was supposedly destroyed? If there is one thing that can tie a movie together for me, it's a good backstory.

Other than that, I found the movie enjoyable and I would definitely watch it again when it comes on TV. If you're looking for hardcore horror, look elsewhere. But if you want some fun with a great ghost story, then definitely watch this. If anything, you can have fun with rooting for who dies next.
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Good story, bad editing...
2 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I had only just recently seen this film in my Australian Film and Literature class and I have very mixed feelings concerning it. First of all, if anyone should ask, I would be the first to say that the emotions held within this movie are raw and powerful. The backdrop for this film is gorgeous and it all fitted together quite nicely. The problems I had with this film is during the second half. The first half of the movie was going at a relatively decent pace. We see these two people, Sandy, a rugged Aussie geologist, and Hiro, a delicate-featured Japanese businessman. Both are from different worlds, from different cultures, but for the time allotted them, they had to live with each other. When they get stuck in the sand in the middle of the Outback desert, I was rooting for them to get over themselves and work together, which they had. At this point I felt this movie was bright, funny, and very poignant.

Then, they had sex. Now, it has nothing to do with the act itself that bothered me. What got me was that I felt very little transition from budding friendship to full-blown romance. As a matter of fact, the only indication of attraction that I managed to glean was when Sandy moved closer to Hiro when the desert got really cold. So, it was kind of a shock to see them in the hotel room together. I got over it quickly enough, though, when the romance actually began. It was painfully awkward, like the rest of their relationship, and suited them both nicely. They trekked through the desert and she showed him sights and places that he has never before seen. It was turning out to be a very sweet romance film.

Then, of course, Hiro died. Suddenly and without warning, he wasn't there. Many will argue that that is how death works, and I will agree, but the events following his death seemed to have slowed down and here is where I have the most problems with. Scenes that could have said everything within one minute, took two or three. Scenes where Sandy waited for Hiro's wife to come out of her office and such, moments when either of them are crying. On the flip side, there are scenes that were cut short and left us hanging, like when Sandy saw something in the office that surprised her and tried to tell her business partner. When he finally gave her his attention, she brushed it off and left, and the viewer is left wondering what evoked such a reaction in her. The story ends being very choppy and incomplete and I am feeling very bereft by the end.

I'm not saying don't go see the movie because, as already illustrated on this board, this film elicits different reactions for each person. All I'm saying is that, while the story is a good idea and it is well-acted, the editing could have been better carried out through the second half of the movie.
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