Choose or Die
Dir. Toby Meakins (2022)
A young coder discovers a lost 80’s survival horror game that unleashes hell onto her already troubled life.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
There are more than enough movies out there about technology and the horrors that come with it, but few of them focus on the bygone era of cassette-based games and the choose-your-own adventure genre that was so popular during the advent of computerized gaming. Truth or Die, a seemingly forgotten film that has managed to get a bit of a resurgence on Netflix, attempts to do so with uneven success, delivering a film that is incredibly watchable if not all that good. It’s one of those films that can be described as just alright, but there are also some fantastic scenes that make the entire thing worth the hour and a half or so it’ll take you to check it out.
It’s not a remarkable film by any stretch, but there are some truly remarkable scenes. The first, which we’ll be calling the Rat Scene, is a masterclass in auditory tension while showing precious little on-screen that is actually scary. Like the best campfire ghost stories, this particular scene was absolutely enthralling, one during which I found myself on the edge of my seat and desperately wanting to know more. The second scene, what we’ll be calling the “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” Scene, was an outstanding example of how filmmakers can use CGI and still manage to make a rad-as-hell scene visually. It’s a really cool scene, where whatever one character does to themselves inflicts damage on the other person, and that scene alone is worth the price of admission (which is free since it’s on Netflix, but you know what I mean). I spent at least an hour racking my brain because I would swear that I’ve seen this exact scene before, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember where (because I hadn’t seen the movie before.) Maybe I had just seen that one scene, but suffice to say it was a stellar scene that was one that deserved to be in a much better movie.
And therein lies the problem with the film itself: everything is a big pile of meh. The couple of scenes that were great are truly great, but 99% of the rest of the runtime is hardly worth a watch at all. I mean, it’s an ok teen horror flick, but it doesn’t hold a candle to some of the great ones that came before. At the same time, it isn’t nearly as bad as a lot of the other ones that came before, so… I guess my point is that you can use it to kill some time, and there are some awesome scenes within that you’ll be glad you saw. Unfortunately the rest is just so-so, a forgettable film with some bright shining moments that you’ll remember much longer than the rest.
Who this movie is for: Teen horror fans, Techno-horror afficionados, Meat lovers
Bottom line: A just-so-so film with a couple of great scenes, this is a great one to put on if you just feel like watching something you don’t have to be really invested in, but it’s not worth a whole lot more than that. The scene near the end with the duel between the game’s two participants, along with the 8-bit rat chase scene, are excellent, but you’ll probably want to find something to read on your phone in between. It’s streaming on Netflix, so it won’t cost you anything to check it out, and you could do a lot worse killing some time