Choose or Die is the kind of pseudo-horror that has a better story buried beneath what it gives you.
|Screenplay By||Simon Allen|
|Where To Watch||Netflix|
|Genre(s)||Action, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Young Adult|
|Duration||1 Hour 25 Minutes|
|Ricky||Kaylenn Aires Fonseca|
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
- 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?
- Where is Kayla and Ricky’s dad? I thought Lance might have been her father for a moment, but that wasn’t confirmed.
- What doesn’t Beck’s company, Kismet, own?
Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.
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 is Kayla’s little brother who drowned.
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 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 is seeming the owner of Kismet, which controls the building Kayla lives in and the building she cleans for work.
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.
The Underlying Story
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On The Radar
- 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
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- 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.