Boy, this haunted technology stuff is getting out of hand. Seems a body can’t touch a single appliance or toy without some evil spirit emerging in smite-mode. In this instance, the problem is a survival-horror video game called Stay Alive, which not only refuses to let you stop playing, after your character dies, you die in the same way. At the root of it all is the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who has been the subject of many a film already. Unaware of this, our usual batch of charact…rs (the Regular Guy, the Regular Girl, the Goth Chick, Her Annoying Brother and the Nerd) must try to beat the game in real life before it beats them.
The film deserves a few props for being a film about games that was actually made by people who know games. The movie game is tantalizing (one dearly wishes such a think actually existed). Otherwise, this is by-the-numbers territory. Some of the supernatural manifestations are fairly effective, but they aren’t original. It’s all been done, done and done, and the only newish angle is the gaming hook.
The lack of originality becomes almost forgivable as one is plunged into the massively enveloping soundtrack. The sinister (and bombastic) score booms from front to rear, and every conceivable sound effect is given the surround treatment and boosted to 11. As the sound pummels you into submission, you might sense that you’ll be dumber by the end of the experience than you were at the start, but you mind too much.
The colours are as striking as the score. The palette varies from relatively naturalistic in the daylight scenes to the surreal for the game sequences, and the transfer renders all this beautifully. The contrasts are superb, and ditto for the blacks. There is no edge enhancement visible. The grain is invisible on standard television screens, and is minimal on projection ones.
The commentary by creators William Brent Bell and Matthew Peterman demonstrates that they are indeed gamers, and has a rather engaging self-critical aspect. This is easily the best feature on the disc, though the elaborate menu (where one customizes one’s character, and depending on what choices one makes, one is either killed or given an alternate menu) is kind of fun. The FX reel is just a scored montage with no explanations, and there’s the trailer.
Been there, done that. Seen it worse, seen it better, but definitely seen it.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Visual Effects Reel
- Interactive Menu