Thursday, February 15, 2007

Stay Alive

wWelcome back Sporefans. This week I've decided to take a break and review a movie that doesn't suck quite as bad as the last few. That's not to say that I'm reviewing a "good" movie, just one less horribly flawed and painful to watch. This week's movie is "Stay Alive", a 2006 horror movie about a killer video game.













You are totally a slave to your gaming habits!


Now as soon as I mentioned that this was a movie about a killer video game, how many of you thought of the 1996 movie "Brainscan" starring Edward Furlong and Frank Langella? Probably quite a few of you. Be honest, how many? How many of you thought of it?

OK, so maybe two people thought of it.

Well this movie differs in several important ways from Brainscan. Instead of the psuedo-tech used in Brainscan, where computers are mystical machines that can hypnotise players into thinking that they're killers haunted by a pixellated demon, "Stay Alive" decided to create a more rigid division between the abilities of technology and the forces of the supernatural. The killer game isn't delivered to the players on some home constructed computer system fashioned from bits of circuitry left over from the 1980s; instead our cast of victims sports mostly Alienware laptops connected to what appear to be wireless PS2 controllers.










MMMmmm.... Alienware.


The movie's portrayal of modern gaming tech isn't perfect, but as a tech-savvy denizen of the new millennium, I usually look back at what people thought computers would be able to do in the last half of the twentieth century and scratch my head in confusion. "The Lawnmower Man", and "Hackers" being two of my prime examples. Given this previous "mystical" quality of computers in the movies, the realism depicted in Stay Alive is a refreshing change.

In any event, Stay Alive tells the story of a bunch of friends who happen upon the beta test of a new game (called Stay Alive, obviously). The original beta tester of the game was killed in his home right after dying in the game. Also, the beta tester's room mate and the room mate's girlfriend are also killed, proving that even by not playing this game won't disqualify you from a gruesome death. Take that innocent bystanders!










Clerk: I'm sorry miss, but we're completely sold out of the Wii.

Samaire Armstrong: NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!


As the next group of young and attractive 20-something players log on to the new game, they start to die off one by one in ways that are almost identical to the way that they are killed in game. The plot progresses as the gamers unravel the mystery of the killer game. Eventually they're lead to an old mansion in the Lousiana countryside where legend has it that the Countess Bathory slew young girls to bathe in their blood for eternal youth.

Now I know that some people are just itching to point out that the Legend of Countess Elizabeth Bathory is actually a legend from 17th century Hungary, which is now Slovokia. But you have to ask yourself this question: Which is going to make for a better movie: an ancient Hungarian legend transported to Louisiana or 5 teens in Slovokia sporting Alienware laptops looking for a game developer who's working in an castle which is not only without electricity, but also a popular tourist spot and national monument? Its hard to fight off creepy ghosts with so many people taking pictures in the back round. So grant William Brent Bell and Matthew Peterman a small amount of artistic licence for choosing the lesser of two evils.

Eventually, the survivors make their way to an old plantation where the game developers decided to set up camp and create a game based on the old Bathory legend. In one corner we have Jon Foster, Samaire Armstrong and TV's Frankie Muniz as the players who live long enough to get to the last level (so to speak) of the movie. In the other corner we have little known actress Maria Kalininia as the Countess.








"...and then she totally wanted me to sign her chest as "Malcom", and I was like, "Honey I have a name, and its not "Malcom". But I did it anyway because she had a huge rack... Hey, pass those chips bro, I'm totally starving over here."


Quick Note: Alice Krige, the borg queen and creepy cult leader in Silent Hill is also in this movie listed as "The Author". As to whether or not "The Author" is interchanged with the Countess in the movie, I wouldn't be able to say without another viewing, as The Countess appears to be overlaid with CGI in most shots.

Well, that, and I'd had a few.

The movie concludes as the kids make their play to seal off the Countess and prevent their own deaths. There's not a whole lot more I can say as it would spoil the ending, but things get pretty well wrapped up by the credits. Expect a standard movie ending without many of the "twists" that you would expect from someone like, oh, I dunno, M. Night Shyamalan. There is one thing that did surprise me, but you'll pick up on it if you watch the movie.

I have to admit that I'm partial to this movie as it contains numerous survival/horror game references, and at one point Frankie Muniz gets to recite the Konami code (Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A for those of you who don't know). I guess this is the code to unlock the extra "Game Over" scene where Colonel Campbell screams "Snake? Snake! SNAAAAAAKKKEEE?!?!" whenever a character dies.








Voice from over the phone: "...and then I was like, totally Tiffany! You are so right. I mean like "Oh my God!" and then Debbie came over and she was wearing these new shoes she, like, got at the mall, and I was like, "cute shoes Debbie" and she was like... hey Jon? Jon? Jon are you even listening to me? Tell me you're not playing one of those stupid games again."

Jon Foster: "..."


There's plenty of gore in the unrated version, and the death scenes are all appropriately amusing, though the one character driving a Fiero doesn't burst into flames as would be appropriate for the owner of a Fiero. Fans of video games of the horror and FPS genre will find this movie entertaining; but as a gamer I found that the CGI scenes for the game, while pretty, reveal little about the game's actual mechanics. One character does mention that this is a "Third Person Shooter", but it doesn't really seem to work as there are several scenes from the first person perspective while the game is being played and the camera doesn't really center unless there's only one player on the screen.

If you're looking for a good horror movie and like video games, this would make a good rental. I don't want to spoil it, but an Alienware laptop's shiny 1337 case plays an important part in the last scene. Three cheers for product placement! Its part of how bad movies can keep getting made.

7 comments:

k said...

i actually have nothing to say about this movie. it's not bad enuff for me to make a snide comment and not good enuff for me to say "maybe i should watch that. so ill leave with just this: how is there a victoria's secret like COuntess in the same film as Malcom. there's something oddly disconcerting about that.

min said...

"But if the video game movie is a thin, dissicated genre, it nevertheless already has its female icon, German actress Alice Krige. She appears in both Stay Alive and Silent Hill, two recent films, the first about gaming, the second based on a game. In the first she has a cameo as a Wicca-style store owner who provides crucial plot-driving information in one scene."

also, wtf happened to IMDB? it's all new and weird looking.

i wish you would reveal the ending. the suspense is killing me.

Spored_to_Death said...

You want to know the ending? Well, get ready, because here there be spoilers.

**SPOILER ALERT**



**Keep going**






**Really, keep going**





Malcolm, I mean "Swink", (yeah, the character's name is Swink) is supposedly trampled by a carriage. The two remaining teens head to the Countess' lair to drive nails into her (this is supposed to bring her spirit back to her body so it can be killed). The blonde chick gets separated from what's his face, who nails the Countess and sets fire to her and the room. Early on the movie lets you in that the main character has a fear of fire. At the last moment, Malcolm shows up and rescues him from burning to death. All 3 live happily ever after, and probably go out for ice cream or something. Whatever it is that people do after they survive these movies.

The End.

min said...

i'm confused by the plot. this countess chick makes this game so that she can kill people and what? bathe in their blood? can't she just kill them the regular way? what's with the video game? if she looks like a victoria's secret model, i'm sure she could lure tons of guys to her place and open up their veins.

she has a physical body and a spiritual body? if she's so in love with her looks, why doesn't she hang out in her real body all the time?

and what happened to the game developers who made the game in the first place? did she bathe in their blood, too, after they finished distributing the game?

and no, i will not watch the movie. that's what i have you for.

Spored_to_Death said...

i'm confused by the plot. this countess chick makes this game so that she can kill people and what? bathe in their blood? can't she just kill them the regular way? what's with the video game? if she looks like a victoria's secret model, i'm sure she could lure tons of guys to her place and open up their veins.

Read the wiki link on the Bloody Countess. There was a real woman in Europe who bathed in the blood of young girls to stay youthful. She's regarded as the first female serial killer.

she has a physical body and a spiritual body? if she's so in love with her looks, why doesn't she hang out in her real body all the time?

Because she's dead.

and what happened to the game developers who made the game in the first place? did she bathe in their blood, too, after they finished distributing the game?

Actually yes, they are dead. You get to see the art studio where the concept art is in the secret room of the mansion.

and no, i will not watch the movie. that's what i have you for.

That's what you say now. We'll see. As long as you live you still have the option of proving me right!

min said...

i still don't see why she would bother with a video game.

and if she's dead, then what's the point of killing people? can't restore your youth when you're already a corpse.

i support my initial decision to not watch this movie.

Spored_to_Death said...

i still don't see why she would bother with a video game.

Because its cool.

and if she's dead, then what's the point of killing people? can't restore your youth when you're already a corpse.

Also because its cool. Do you question the logic of the ghosts in "The Amityville Horror" or "Poltergeist" when they decide to kill people? No? Then why question the dead crazy lady?

i support my initial decision to not watch this movie.

We shall see... we shall see.

In any event, the hiatus from posting will be over next week. I have a great new movie lined up for the upcoming review. Don't miss it. Should be up and about Tuesday or Wenesday night.