Stay Alive

While there are plenty of horror movies based on video games, so far there have been no movies where the subject was a horror game. Stay Alive is the first, and lowers the bar for any future entries in this genre. Stay Awake is a more fitting name for this lame movie that relies on PG-13 rated gore to get its point across. The concept is simple - there is a game called Stay Alive. The goal of the game seems to be to stay alive. However, if people die in the game, they end up dying the same way in real life. Kind of like after watching the tape in The Ring, people die. Or, like every other horror movie, where, no matter what somebody does, they die.

Hutch MacNeil (Jon Foster, The Door in the Floor, Terminator 3) owns the game. He got if after a childhood friend died gruesomely. Stay Alive was the last game he played. His friend's two roommates also died gruesomely. As a tribute, MacNeil and his friends decide to play the game. It also helps that Stay Alive is in beta testing, so they are some of the first people to play it. A very motley crew that includes Phineus Barnum (Jimmi Simpson, Herbie: Fully Loaded, D.E.B.S.), his sister October (Sophia Bush, Supercross, Van Wilder), Swink Sylvania (Freddie Muniz, Racing Stripes, Agent Cody Banks 2), Abigail (Samaire Armstrong, DarkWolf, Not Another Teen Movie), and Miller (Adam Goldberg, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Salton Sea).

The premise of Stay Alive is that the game is so creepy that it freaks out the people playing. It takes place on an old Southern plantation, where a Countess was killing children. The biggest mistake that writer/director William Brent Bell (Sparkle and Charm) and co-writer Matthew Peterman make is hyping up the game far too much. It looks like a generic first person shooter. The graphics are certainly not cutting edge, and the game does not look that scary. An audio interface where the players must recite a seance before the game starts is more likely to get titters out of the audience than feelings of eeriness.

In the style of all of today's horror movies, a malevolent force kills off the stupid teens one by one. The popular fad is to kill people off in gruesome and unusual ways, and Stay Alive isn't very good in that a video game foreshadows everybody's death. There is no surprise as to how, the only surprise is when, and as the herd thins, it's pretty obvious that the when is pretty soon. Bell differentiates his characters by having them dress differently. Otherwise, they are all pretty similar. He tried to make things "hip" by taking about "gamers." Instead, this comes off as a cheap ploy to try to sell Stay Alive as something it is not. It is a dull cookie cutter horror movie.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 25 minutes, Rated PG-13 for horror violence, disturbing images, language, brief sexual and drug content.

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