Macabre…ish Horror Review: Play or Die
Play or Die, 2019/ 1 hr 29 min
A former couple, Lucas (Charley Palmer Rothwell) and Chloe (Roxane Mesquida), also gamers, signed up for an Escape Room type of game called Paranoia, a year ago, working on puzzles and there is only one level to go, to gain entry into the game. The clue to the entrance to Paranoia is somewhere in a rave. It’s that exclusive. The prize for winning is a million dollars.
The game takes place in an abandoned psychiatric hospital. Inside, Lucas and Chloe meet the other contestants, Ray (Hippolyte de Poucques), Maxine (Daphné Huynh), Jablowski (Mustii) and Naomi (Marie Zabukovec).
The first challenge, they wake up, handcuffed in separate rooms and they must free themselves, get out of their rooms and find their teammates. But first they need to find handcuff keys and those are not necessarily in their rooms. And the doors have no knobs.
The next is a room where one of them must strap themselves to the bed and the other has to solve the puzzle to figure out the code to release them before they are hacked to death.
Third, is a room on fire. They have to figure out the clue then play their way out of the room before they burn to death.
On and on the clues get harder and the games, progressively more dangerous. In the fourth room they find the corpse of another player who came in with them. And soon someone is beating their way into one of the doors.
After some pretty horrific challenges, they discover hospital records of people who have been residents at psychiatric facilities, people they know. And other players in the game, alive and dead, suddenly there are more things more important than the game and winning.
Meanwhile, more and more challenges are just torture, some of it is self imposed under the threat of death. Some people killed out right for no reason and a suicide.
The truth of this game is very unexpected.
This is another deadly game horror film (Belgian) but with a twist, this one directed by Jacques Kluger. Based on a book called Puzzle by Franck Thilliez. The physical effects are pretty good. The pacing of the story and concept is good. You have to pay attention because transitions from character to character is sometimes confusing. Then there are flashbacks that tells the parts of the story we do not know. There are also psychological breaks that can be confusing if you’re not paying attention. Expect torture, blood, vomit and jump scares. It’s not all gore fest though, it’s a good story.
Flash warning @ 12:20 to 13:40
TW: Child abuse and suicide