William Brent Bell and Gary Barber
William Brent Bell
Jon Foster as Hutch O'Neill
Samaire Armstrong as Abigail
Frankie Muniz as Swink Sylvania
Jimmi Simpson as Phineas Bantum
Wendell Pierce as Detective Thibodeaux
Online gaming is here to stay, and the gamer profile has shifted from the old stereotype of ultra-intelligent shut-ins to the new that includes people from all walks of life. This certainly explains the high frequency of video game to movie efforts, and speaks directly to the existence of Stay Alive.
The story in Stay Alive is both simple and ridiculous, just as the background stories of many computer games are. Loomis (Milo Ventimiglia) gets his hands on a horror computer game that is particularly scary. If you falter in the game your online death is both horrible and dramatic. Well, he does die in the game and immediately afterward he begins seeing strange shadows and hearing noises around the house. Then he is killed by a darting freak in precisely the same way that his character died in the game.
This theme continues through the movie as Loomis’ friends find a copy of the game and play it themselves.
Behind it all is a strange tale of an evil witch that bathed in the blood of young girls 100 years ago to maintain her youth. Computer game and real life merge as our heroes Hutch and Abigail (Foster and Armstrong) try to unravel the witches tale and discover how to put her soul to rest once and for all.
Stay Alive is boiler-plate teen horror at it’s most typical. The characters are wafer-thin, the story unfolds with odd and implausible realizations and the kids in Stay Alive do stupid things (wandering into old buildings alone to investigate a spectral appearing, for example) that make you hope for their demise just so that there is one less idiot in the world. Well, the one exception to this is Phineas (Jimmi Simpson) who’s character is so over-the-top rude and ridiculous that he is actually pretty funny. I didn’t like it when he died.
All this said, I have a confession to make. I thought it was fun.
I know…that is kind of like admitting to your buddies at the pool hall that the CD in your truck’s player is Britney Spears’ Greatest Hits, but what can I say? My horror movie sensibility is very in tune with incredible film making, ingenious technique and story telling, rich characters, believable acting and original concepts. But sometimes a movie like Stay Alive will merely entertain me, and that is enough.
I have a hard time recommending this movie to all of you Horror Freaks and Fright Aficionados out there…because ultimately it is a high-formula poorly-acted surprise-free addition to the horror space. But I liked it, so there. If you have anything to say about it then you and I can step outside… to the parking lot by my truck. Oops, I did it again…