Choose or Die: An 80s Nostalgia Horror Film That Falls Short of Its Potential
It’s no secret that the 80s have made a major comeback in recent years, influencing fashion, arts, and various other aspects of culture. This trend has even extended to the world of movies and TV shows, with a wave of content set in or inspired by the iconic decade. The horror genre, too, has embraced this 80s revival, and Netflix’s Choose or Die is one such film that attempts to ride this wave of nostalgia. However, despite some intriguing concepts and nods to classic arcade games, the film fails to deliver on its true potential, largely due to the directorial approach taken by Toby Meakins.
Setting the Stage with 80s Nostalgia
Choose or Die follows the story of Kayla (played by Iona Evans), a broke college dropout trapped in a dead-end job cleaning an empty building. Her only solace comes from spending time with her computer programmer friend, Isaac (Asa Butterfield), and escaping into the world of classic arcade games. When they stumble upon a vintage arcade game called CURS>R with an unclaimed prize of over two-hundred-thousand dollars, Kayla decides to take a chance and play. Little does she know that the game will force her to make life-threatening choices, as failure to decide will result in death. Kayla embarks on a harrowing journey through four levels of horrors, with her loved ones’ lives hanging in the balance.
While Netflix has had success with original horror series like The Haunting of Hill House, Choose or Die doesn’t quite reach the same level of quality. Director Toby Meakins’ approach to the film’s intriguing ideas falls short, leaving the potential largely untapped. The film attempts to blur the lines between reality and fantasy as Kayla progresses through the game, but this concept would have been better suited for a shorter feature rather than an eighty-four-minute movie. The narrative lacks engagement and fails to maintain intrigue, resulting in a less satisfying experience compared to similar films like Ready or Not, Escape Room, and Saw.
Missed Opportunities and Underdeveloped Characters
Despite its shortcomings, Choose or Die has a few bright spots that hint at its untapped potential. The film’s introduction effectively sets the tone, immersing viewers in tension and anxiety as characters find themselves trapped in the game. The initial encounter between Kayla and the CURS>R program, set in an empty diner, is particularly hard to watch as the waitress is forced to eat glass. These moments showcase the possibilities that the film could have explored, but unfortunately, they are not fully realized.
One of the film’s major setbacks lies in its underdeveloped characters and poorly written script. While some of the kills in the second and third acts are well-directed, the overall lack of gore and blood detracts from the intended intensity. Director Toby Meakins fails to fully exploit the potential of reality shifts between the video game and the real world, resulting in missed opportunities for the cast and crew to truly shine.
Choose or Die: More Intriguing Than Netflix’s Average Genre Offering
When compared to other horror films in Netflix’s catalog, Choose or Die manages to stand out as a more interesting and intriguing option. However, it falls short of delivering a truly satisfying experience. Despite a handful of clever ideas, a delightful voice cameo by Robert Englund, and some well-executed horror set-pieces, the film ultimately lacks substance beyond its surface-level appeal. Choose or Die is now available to stream on Netflix.
Choose or Die attempts to capitalize on the 80s nostalgia trend and deliver a thrilling horror experience through the lens of classic arcade games. While it possesses some intriguing concepts and well-directed sequences, the film ultimately falls short of its true potential. Director Toby Meakins’ approach fails to fully explore the blurred lines between reality and fantasy, resulting in an underwhelming narrative that never quite reaches the level of engagement and tension one would hope for. Despite its shortcomings, Choose or Die stands out as a more interesting option within Netflix’s genre movie catalog. However, it ultimately fails to deliver a memorable and satisfying horror experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Choose or Die a purely 80s nostalgia-driven film?
No, while Choose or Die does incorporate 80s nostalgia elements, it also aims to create a thrilling horror experience centered around the concept of making life-threatening choices within a video game setting.
2. Does Choose or Die rely heavily on gore and blood?
While the film does contain some well-directed and intense kills, it holds back on excessive gore and blood throughout most of its runtime. This decision may disappoint viewers seeking a more graphic horror experience.
3. What sets Choose or Die apart from other horror films on Netflix?
Choose or Die distinguishes itself from other horror offerings on Netflix through its incorporation of 80s nostalgia and its focus on video game-inspired horror. These elements add a unique flavor to the overall viewing experience.
4. Does Choose or Die have a strong cast?
While the cast delivers competent performances, the film’s main shortcomings lie in its underdeveloped characters and poorly written script. The actors do their best with the material given, but their talents are not fully utilized.
5. Would Choose or Die appeal to fans of classic arcade games?
Choose or Die incorporates elements of classic arcade games within its narrative, creating a sense of nostalgia and familiarity for fans of the genre. However, it’s important to note that the film’s focus is on horror rather than gaming nostalgia.