Jared Moshe explores the classic science fiction trope in his latest film, Aporia from Well Go USA. Since losing her husband Mal (Edi Gathegi) in a drunk-driving incident, Sophie (Judy Greer) has struggled to manage crippling grief, a full-time job, and the demands of parenting her devastated teenage daughter (Faithe Herman).
Choose something else on Netflix instead of Choose or Die
First-time director Roby Meakins collaborates with writer Simon Allen for the uninspired horror flick Choose or Die from Netflix. Kayla (Iola Evans) is a broke coder and college student trying to cover her mom Thea’s medical bills and stay on top of the rent. One-day fate comes knocking, and Kayla discovers a possible solution.
Tempted by chance to win unclaimed prize money, along with her friend Isaac (Asa Butterfield), she decides to reboot a mysterious 1980s video game called “Curs>r.” The game’s premise is similar to that of the late seventies software Infocom. For those unfamiliar, Infocom games were text adventures where users direct the action by entering short strings of words to give commands when prompted.
Generally, the program will respond by describing the action results, often the contents of a room if the player has moved within the virtual world. The user reads this information, decides what to do, and enters another short series of words. Examples include “go west” or “take the flashlight.”
Naturally, Kayla cannot resist and decides to try the game. In classic horror movie fashion, Kayla ignores the warnings after the first time she plays the game. Curs>r modifies itself based on what’s going on in whatever room Kayla occupies. Unfortunately, every level generally ends in carnage and a screen that screams “CHOOSE OR DIE.” After Kayla plays the game’s first level at a diner, it finishes with a poor waitress munching on broken glass.
I will give credit for the premise, as it is interesting. However, the writing and direction come off as amateurish. Iola Evans’s arc is weak and does not make her a likable final girl, while the usually reliable Asa Butterfield is weak in his role. I shook my head at the treatment of horror icon Robert England, who plays a cheap imitation of himself in a tepid voiceover role. Furthermore, I cannot help but wonder if Eddie Marsan has some debts to pay because an actor of his caliber has no business in a film like this. While Marsan’s role is brief, I couldn’t help but wonder was Gary Busey unavailable?
If the film’s goal was to allow viewers and gamers to step into a surreal world of next-level terror, then this is a game not worth playing.
Final Grade: D-
Choose or Die is available to stream on Netflix tomorrow
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