Choose or Die is the kind of pseudo-horror that has a better story buried beneath what it gives you.


Director(s) Toby Meakins
Screenplay By Simon Allen
Date Released 4/15/2022
Where To Watch Netflix
Genre(s) Action, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Young Adult
Duration 1 Hour 25 Minutes
Content Rating TV-MA
Noted Cast
Kayla Iola Evans
Ricky Kaylenn Aires Fonseca
Thea Angela Griffin
Isaac Asa Butterfield
Beck Joe Bolland
Lance Ryan Gage

Film Summary

Kayla’s life has been rather unfortunate. Her younger brother Ricky died by drowning while she was supposed to watch him, and while her mother, Thea, is alive, she has the kind of ailment that is only getting worse with time. Luckily, Kayla finds some reprieve from the sordid parts of her life through Isaac, who has a crush on her.

But, after discovering this 80s game named “Curs>r” in Isaac’s junk pile, Kayla’s life is once again upended by her decisions, but now with some otherworldly program being involved.

Things To Note

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: Cursing (Yup), Violence (Blood, graphic imagery, self-mutilation), Miscellaneous (Moments that’ll make you flinch – like watching someone eat glass)

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. So if the game considers you worthy, do you and the others it has considered worthy benefit from other people’s suffering or just one at a time?
  2. Where is Kayla and Ricky’s dad? I thought Lance might have been her father for a moment, but that wasn’t confirmed.
  3. What doesn’t Beck’s company, Kismet, own?

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Kayla

After dropping out of school, Kayla has tried over 27 times to get a job programming but only finds exploitative cleaning jobs. But with her friend Isaac owning some kind of tech refurbish shop, she enjoys playing with his new stuff, hanging with him, which leads to her discovering “Curs>r” and using her skills to revive a console that is able to play the game. Which might be one of the worst decisions she ever made up to that point.

Ricky

Ricky is Kayla’s little brother who drowned.

Thea

Thea (Angela Griffin) talking to Kayla about the rats
Thea (Angela Griffin)

At one time, Thea seemed like she’d make it out of the projects and become something. However, whether it was the death of Ricky or something else, she snapped, and since then, Kayla has had to take care of her.

Isaac

Isaac is a former classmate of Kayla, now her de facto best friend, who has a HUGE crush on her. He is even designing a video game with her likeness in it.

Beck

Beck (Joe Bolland) showing one of the first iterations of the game
Beck (Joe Bolland)

Beck is seeming the owner of Kismet, which controls the building Kayla lives in and the building she cleans for work.

Lance

Lance is either the super or a drug dealer who keeps a close eye on Thea and is always waiting to pounce, but he isn’t against spending time with Kayla either.

Review

Highlights

The Underlying Story

Kayla (Iola Evans) in a diner, about to play Curs data-lazy-src=

Choose Or Die is the kind of movie where you can see a better story than the one given. Kayla having to drop out of school, seemingly to support her mom, is more interesting than some cursed choose your own adventure game. Never mind, when you add in the trauma of her little brother dying because of her, Thea supposedly falling from grace, and then this predator stalking Thea and Kayla, there is far more interesting things in Kayla’s life than Curs>r and its games with her life.

Low Points

Overwhelmingly Indifferent

Isaac being this love sick nerd does the film no favors. Kayla might be cool with him but clearly doesn’t love him. Heck, with their chemistry and compatibility, I’d say Isaac is more part of Kayla’s routine than anything. This makes him getting involved in this not an “OH I HOPE ISAAC DOESN’T GET HURT OR DIE!” type of scenario. His living or dying isn’t pushed to matter much since Kayla doesn’t push his value beyond someone to see, so she doesn’t have to be home all day.

Sadly, this level of indifferences also applies to Thea and our lead, Kayla. Thea talking about the rats in the walls and how Lance could help with her ailment doesn’t make you care about her well-being. You’ll ask how she ended up this way, but Choose Or Die is story-driven, not character-driven, so you won’t learn that answer.

Isaac (Asa Butterfield) and Kayla (Iola Evans) spending time together
Isaac (Asa Butterfield) and Kayla (Iola Evans)

Then, when it comes to Kayla, don’t get me wrong, you can see Evans could have done more with this character. However, like many actors, she can not transcend what’s on the page. Some can make an okay or mediocre character surpass what was written. Sadly, Evans isn’t at that point in their career when they can do that, and because of that, you end up just going through the motions with her. Which makes it so, despite all she is going through, you don’t feel bad for her, or much if anything. You just want her to keep going so you can understand how Curs>r works and the power behind it. She is, ultimately, just a medium.

On The Fence

Inconsistently Flinch Worthy

While watching someone eat glass will definitely get your jaw tensing up, as for the other curses we see? Unless someone putting a blade on their person makes you cringe, you may see Choose or Die inconsistent when it comes to the violence you expect it to have. I’d even say it starts off on a high with the glass eating, then it is all downhill from there until Kayla reaches level 5. But even then, it feels rather tame, considering the whole point of this is that the demon, or the one benefiting from those cursed, is supposed to feed on any and all player’s trauma.

Overall

Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

Choose Or Die just misses the mark in most of the ways it could. It’s not violent, the villain isn’t interesting at all, and when it comes to the concept of any character dying, no one is built up enough for you to care. Even the lead, Kayla, feels borderline lifeless, even though you can see a far better story there than what Allen and Meakins decided to focus on.

Lance (Ryan Gage) being threatened by Kayla
Lance (Ryan Gage)

Hence the mixed label. With giving you little, if anything, to really invest in, Choose or Die is a quantity over quality addition to the Netflix library.

Movie Directory

An old school film reel drawn by artist Dean Nelson.

On The Radar


Ratings

  • Recommended: Some of the best-seen movies we have ever watched and mentioned to friends, family, and strangers as films that need to be seen.
  • Positive (Worth Seeing): Whether you’ll have to go to the movies, download, or stream, movies of this category are worth your time and money with few, if any, qualms from us.
  • Mixed (Divisive): Due to this movie having a few quirks, of which may work for some and for others be a problem, we believe your enjoyment of this movie will depend on your taste.
  • Negative (Acquired Taste): While one or two elements kept us going until the end, unfortunately, we’re of the opinion this film never reached the potential it was marketed to have.

Special Categories/ Tags

  • Indie: By our definition, independent films are films you have to seek to find due to limited availability or lack of a marketing push.
  • Film Festival: Featured in this tag are films and shorts which were discovered thanks to various film festivals, so some of the productions may not have wide availability but still may deserve to be on your watch.
  • Shorts: Be it ten or fifteen minutes, or a half-hour, these quick teases or films get right to the point, often show the potential of filmmakers and the actors who have joined them in their journey.
  • Ending Spoilers: Trying to remember how a film ended, or want a different take on the ending, then check out the "ending spoilers" category. 
Title Card 1 - Choose or Die (2022)
Choose or Die (2022) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)
Who Is This For?
Horror movie fans who liked what was done with Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, and wondered what would that be like if they didn't have to make decisions.
Highlights
The Underlying Story
Disputable
Overwhelmingly Indifferent
Inconsistently Flinch Worthy
73


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Avatar of Amari

I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.

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