Macabre…ish Horror Review: Choose or Die
Choose or Die, 2022/ 1 hr 24 min
An obscure game wakes up and immediately begins asking the user, Hal (Eddie Marsan), questions and granting ‘wishes’. It soon goes from asking if he wants beer and lights on or off to ‘her ears or his tongue?’ He doesn’t choose but in the other room are his wife and son, upon entering, he sees his wife with a knife and their son’s tongue in her hand. The game announces level one complete.
3 Months Later
Poor friends, Isaac (Asa Butterfield) and Kayla (Iola Evans), one is creating a game and the other is an aspiring programmer. They find an old game called Curser, offering a $125,000 prize, an accompanying cassette with Robert Englund’s voice, invited them to play.
Kayla and her struggling mother are on the verge of eviction. In the middle of night she goes to a cafe and starts the game while waiting for Isaac and it seems to know she’s at the cafe and what’s going on. She gets spooked and when she closes the laptop, she is warned that she has to choose or die.
The server starts acting strange, as if she’s an avatar in the game. After breaking a bunch of glasses, she picks up a giant shard and eats it. Then another. Though the server is doing it, she is terrified and can’t stop. When Kayla tries to physically stop her, someone jumps out of the kitchen and tries to stop Kayla’s interference. All she can do is play the game. Then she wakes up at home.
Later, she tries to explain what happened at the cafe to Isaac but he doesn’t believe her. He promises to research the game though. While Kayla is at work, the game starts level two and boots up, on it’s own, on her work computer while her mother screams about rats on the phone. She has to play her mother to safety before she’s eaten by rats. Choose or Die.
Kayla loses her job after completing level two after attacking the work computer. Her mom is also recovering in the hospital after surviving the game. And the local predator/dealer, Lance (Ryan Gage), lurks in the halls of the projects, exploiting the most vulnerable. He has set his sites on Kayla.
Again, in desperation, she goes to Isaac for help. He tells her he can find nothing on the game, she can find nothing in the code and so they search for clues in the audio. And so they wait for level 3 which should happen at 2 am.
Isaac is apart of this game and it’s freaking him out. They have to choose doors that have mysteriously been painted, one red, one blue, in his apartment. And survive the challenge on the other side. Choose not to play, then they’re choosing death.
Every morning at 2 am the next level begins, no matter what or where. Whoever around becomes a part of the game and/or whoever is closest to the player. Meanwhile, Kayla and Isaac use the time in between to find out everything they can about the game, while the game is learning all about them.
The search takes them 5 hours away to an abandoned building in an old shipyard. While there, they call the number and hear a phone ringing and a familiar recording. In an out of the way room they find beta tapes with recordings of the first beta tests of the game, the man who made it, a test subject and how it works. It’s a disturbing mystery.
Oh and whoever wins gets to play the previous winner or the game master. Whoever survives, wins.
This horror, directed by Toby Meakins, has me hooked from the beginning. It’s paced pretty well and the ‘drama/levels’ is spread out pretty even throughout the movie. There is a mix of very graphic moments and hints of graphic moments. There’s also a solid mix of good physical effects and good CG. After seeing so many deadly game horror flicks, this doesn’t seem as impactful but this is still very good! Based on the end, this could use a good sequel or prequel.