Movie Review: Stay Alive (2006)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2006 thriller starring Samaire Armstrong and Frankie Muniz.

Synopsis: When Hutch's friend is brutally murdered, he discovers a new video game, Stay Alive, among his friend's possessions. He and some of his friends decide to play the game. However, what they don't realize is, in order to play, they must read an ancient spell that releases the spirit of infamous Countess Elizabeth Bathory and, if they die in the game, they will die in real life.

Review

I came across this film on one of our movie channels Friday night and, since the kids were in bed, decided to watch it with my wife, both because it sounded like it would be something different and I recognized actor Frankie Muniz. Unfortunately, while this movie had a decent-enough premise, it just wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be.

The idea that a possessed video game could cause you to die in the same brutal fashion your avatar dies in was unique and had potential. However, the movie never fully lives up to that potential. A big part of the reason for this is the film starts to drag after the first couple of deaths as Hutch (Foster) and his friends begin to understand what is happening, pause the game and go through what seems like an eternity of researching while trying to explain it to the police.

When the movie finally gets moving again, it just never fully gains any real steam. There isn't much suspense and the film moves along in a very predictable fashion. It wasn't hard to figure out who was going to die next or how Hutch was going to stop the Countess (Maria Karlinina).

Another thing that really hurts this movie is there is just too much left unexplained. For example, while I'm not necessarily opposed to the movie using a real-life person like Bathory, I'm still confused how a 17th-century European aristocrat ended up buried in Louisiana and was now a video game expert.

Also not helping the movie was the way the main premise quickly falls apart. The main idea is you have to die in the video game to die in real life. But, by the end, Bathory's spirit was just hunting everyone. Hutch, as far as we knew, never died in the game and his companion, Abigail (Armstrong) didn't even play it but both were targeted by her spirit too. If Bathory didn't need to follow the established rules, then why even bother making the game?

Final Opinion

As I said, I did like the overall premise of this film and think it had some potential to be good. However, while the concept was decent and the first half of the movie was actually OK, the film quickly starts to fall apart about halfway through and, because of that, just isn't as good as it had the potential to be.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 06/24/2016, StevenHelmer
 
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