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Choose or Die review – gory Netflix video game horror

There’s a surprisingly nasty edge to this tolerable yet derivative wannabe franchise-starter about a cursed game from the 80s It’s strange that the silly but mostly tolerable horror Choose or Die was an acquisition rather than a homegrown Netflix original given how much it seems algorithmically modeled for the notoriously formula-obsessed platform. It stars Asa Butterfield, an in-house star thanks to the success of Sex Education. It’s contemporary-set but baked in 80s nostalgia, something that also inspires the aesthetic of the aforementioned comedy series as well as the entirety of long-running hit Stranger Things. It also focuses on a cursed video game, making it a close cousin to the streamer’s interactive Black Mirror hit Bandersnatch. It’s a film destined to live its days in the “if you like” container. It’ll probably fare well there as fans of the above might find just about enough here to play with although they might, like me, be a little surprised at just how nasty this quickie horror is, made with closer attention to the gore quotient than any level of creativity. It’s part of the cursed tech subgenre that expanded after the success of Gore Verbinski’s surprisingly effective remake of Ringu, later retitled The Ring. It led to more similarly plotted J-horror remakes, such as One Missed Call, Pulse and Shutter, and then also a string of US copycats, like Feardotcom, Unfriended and Stay Alive, a 2006 flop that saw a group of teens playing a deadly video game. We’re in similar, yet mildly more proficient, territory here with the discovery of a dusty 80s game called CURS>R (the film’s original title), that coerces players into making genuine life-or-death decisions. Continue reading...

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