Review by Adam Donato
Choose or Die is like a cross between Truth or Dare and Stranger Things, but without the humor of either. A young woman finds herself committed to an old and cursed video game that presents her with painful decisions in her real life. The nostalgia comes from the fact that it’s an old video game voiced by Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund. This is the feature debut of Toby Meakins, who has directed a few shorts and an episode of the television series Bite Size Horror. Is nostalgia enough to prop up such a derivative concept?
Remember the '80s? The main character of this movie certainly doesn’t, which begs the question, as time goes on what will be the new decade future generations will venerate as the glory days of popular culture? Thanks to superhero culture monopolizing the blockbuster industry, it seems to be that the 2000s will reign supreme with genre stalwarts like Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man, and The Dark Knight still being referenced today. That being said, there will always be rose tinted goggles for the 1980’s. All the movies that seem to be made these days are either referencing movies that came out then or they’re direct sequels/reboots of them. This is the sequel generation. The 80’s icon being exploited for this throw away horror flick is The Nightmare on Elm Street. With this and being the villain of the new Stranger Things season, Englund hasn’t been this popular in decades. Ironic how this movie drops on Netflix the same week the trailer drops for the new Stranger Things season. Hope his fans think his best feature is his voice because that’s all they get here. He’s a non factor in this.
The main duo being followed in this movie is played by Asa Butterfield and Iola Evans. If one were to look up the cast on IMDb, Evans would be the seventh name listed despite commanding the most screen time in the movie. The two have decent chemistry and the audience is sure to feel for them as they endure cruelty at every turn. Eddie Marsan plays the godfather of the Choose or Die video game and is one of the bigger names in the movie, despite his maybe twenty minutes of screen time. Nobody is particularly good or bad in this movie.
Somehow, the nostalgia is not the most unoriginal aspect of this movie. The concept of this movie is nonsensical and stupid. Think garbage films like Nerve or Escape Room. There’s a mysterious and certainly omniscient force that is causing this “game” to happen as the main characters are tortured scene after scene. Besides rooting for the final girl to persevere and make it out alive, there’s nothing to be invested in here. There is no greater truth behind it all and the movie has absolutely nothing to say. Enjoy watching characters struggle and decide at home whether you’d choose or die along with the movie. It’s inoffensive, but movies like this are a dime a dozen and this one is nothing more than background noise.
There is no genre with a more dedicated fanbase than horror. People who enjoy suspense and gruesome situations will be satisfied with this movie at the least. Besides that there is little to no standout value here. If it happens to play automatically after rewatching the older seasons of Stranger Things in preparation for the new one, this is purposefully vanilla and on brand.
Choose or Die hits Netflix on April 15.