Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Stay Alive (2006)

Let's see... what's this goatse site link about?

There is a video game for the Playstation 2 that’s floating around, a beta version either awaiting final approval from the game classification authorities or in an ultra-secret invitation-only testing stage. Passed hand to hand or mailed from the gaming company to its list of games testers, Stay Alive is a game to die for, a horror survival FPS shooter with insane amounts of gore, violence and scenes of the supernatural. The final boss of the game is based on the real life character of Elizabeth Bathory, the infamous Blood Countess who drank the blood of girls to stay youthful. Of course, you’d want to get your hands on this game. Even if it kills you.

The catch? One by one, gamers turn up dead, murdered in the same manner their character die in the game. Coincidence? A group of gamers whose mutual friend is a victim decide to investigate, and soon they start seeing things and believe that the game does have a curse that causes the deaths of players. And once you die in the game, your death is pretty much inevitable… Can the group break the clues surrounding the game in time before more deaths occur, such as their own? Before the game itself changes the rules?

It helps if you don’t think of Stay Alive as a horror movie, but as a movie adaptation of a (non-existent) horror-themed video game. Once you do this, several things will fall into place automatically, such as the realisation that this movie doesn’t need to be horrifying to be successful. Or the fact that this is a much cleverer picture than the entire Final Destination series, given that the writers of Stay Alive bothered to create an entire lore and coherent background to explain how the Blood Countess and the cursed videogame work (surprisingly enough, the game doesn’t really change the rules of the curse).

Even better yet, this movie has plenty of scenes of actual gaming, and far outdoes Uwe Boll in terms of scenes of live action FPS-style sequences, and I believe Stay Alive might hold a record for mixed CGI-live action scenes, where the characters continually battle creepy-looking creeping videogame sprites. These are presumably the ghosts of the victims of the Blood Countess, but the way they crawl will bring to mind Samara/Sadako from the Ring. The CGI-live action mix looks extremely good, if not at all horrifying.

First published at incinemas on 6 July 2006

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