CHOOSE OR DIE
(director/writer: Toby Meakins; screenwriter: Simon Allen/Matthew James Wilkinson; cinematographer: Catherine Derry; editors: Tommy Boulding, Mark Towns; music:Liam Howlett; cast: Robert Englund (Self), Angela Griffin (Thea), Ryan Gage (Lance), Asa Butterfield (Isaac), Iola Evans (Kayla), Eddie Marsan (Hal), Pete Macale (Gabe), Joe Bolland (Beck), Kate Fleetwood (Laura), Ioanna Kimbook (Grace); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producers; John Zois, Sébastien Raybaud, Matthew James Wilkinson: Neflix; 2022-UK)
“If I had to choose a horror pic I enjoyed about video games it wouldn’t be this one.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
If I had to choose a horror pic I enjoyed about video games it wouldn’t be this one. It’s directed by the first-time British director Toby Meakins, that’s written by him, TV writer Simon Allen and the producer Matthew James Wilkinson as a low-rent retro tech horror flick. It tries to recapture the retro thrills from the 1980s, but doesn’t offer anything fresh. I would probably choose something like Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983), as my choice.
Though set in the States it was filmed in London with a mostly English cast.
CURS>R is this obscure 1984 survival game that promises a $125,000 grand prize, if only one can last five days. This game attracts the aimless and broke college dropout teenager Kayla (Iola Evans), who comes across CURS>R in a junk pile at the apartment of her reclusive nerdy game-designer bestie, Isaac (Asa Butterfield, Brit actor talking like an American). She calls the prize hotline with Isaac, and the number still works. It offers an ominous message that “reality is cursed.” The horror legend Robert Englund (who played Freddy Krueger) appears in a voice cameo as himself offering the hotline message.
Kayla is lured into the game because she could use the prize money since her depressive mom (Angela Griffin) is a drug addict, and she’s still grieving over the swimming pool accidental drowning of her younger brother. Kayla can only land a dead-end office cleaning job at night.
While in a diner, Kayla gets connected to the game for the next five days and must play the game for her very life. To stay alive, Kayla must be on the alert when after every refrain she must either choose or die, as every choice has cruel consequences and she must choose the lesser of the two evils to live for another day–stopping is not an option.
The film has an edge as it gets nasty, but that’s all it has, as its sinister backstory only makes its ridiculous central story only more ridiculous as it brings in supernatural elements in its conclusion.
REVIEWED ON 4/25/2022 GRADE: C+