STAY OUT STAY ALIVE (2019) Reviews and overview

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‘Some things should stay buried’

Stay Out Stay Alive is a 2019 American horror feature film about five young hikers whose discovery of an abandoned gold mine leads to madness.

Co-produced, written and directed by Dean Yurke – making his directorial debut – the Brainstorm Motion Pictures production stars genre icon Barbara Crampton, Brie Mattson, Brandon Wardle, Sage Mears, Christina July Kim, and William Romano-Pugh.


Shadowed by a haunting presence in the redwood forest, five young hikers discover an abandoned goldmine dating back to the Gold Rush and descend into madness and greed as the pursuit of easy riches consumes them.

After an earthquake plummets Donna – one of the hikers – down a mine shaft where she is pinned under a rock, the group must choose between saving their friend or taking their time to unlawfully mine the forbidden gold for themselves.

As the group degenerates into conflict, a ghostly remnant of the mine’s past ratchets up the horror of the unfolding events…

Reviews [may contain spoilers – click links to read more]:

“The story ends up being one of greed and how humans can be corrupted by it and, how the movie portrays, the supernatural forces don’t need to act for this to happen. What could have been a good movie ended up suffering from a weak script and bad acting that harms the probabilities of taking something positive out of it.” The 10th Circle

Stay Out Stay Alive benefits greatly from a sense of authenticity. I assume it was filmed on a set, but the mine looks completely real. That creates claustrophobia and amps up the overall tension. Yurke also continually devises new twists that put his characters in increasing danger.” The Aisle Seat

Stay Out Stay Alive isn’t a reinvention of its genre or even a particularly deep exploration into the nature of human greed – in spite of the literal depths of the story’s mineshaft – but it is a very solid genre exercise that competently uses the tropes and tools of psychological horror to remind us to be careful of what we wish for.” Birth. Movies. Death.

“Not only is the film bubbling with tension, but it also sends a powerful underlying moral and social message to the audience. Yurke smartly opted for more subtle effect, despite his visual background, which allowed the characters and the suspense to carry the plot.” The Blogging Banshee

“Yurke has an eye for framing, and his experience on visual effects means a strong grasp on how to use them. The supernatural elements are there, but they’re wisely kept at a minimum so it never looks or feels cheesy. But this fledgling director is still struggling to find a balance in juggling all of the moving components of a feature film.” Bloody Disgusting

“Writer/director/producer Dean Yurke has crafted a nifty, taut feature rich in atmosphere, from the beautiful forest landscapes to the claustrophobic mine, and with a terrific storm sequence in the third act. Cinematographer Bill Holshevnikoff captures these settings beautifully, with the electrifying storm action being one of many highlights.” Gruesome Magazine

“The acting was convincing, and it was cool to watch the cast deconstruct into their baser impulses of greed and arrogance. The climax is suspenseful. And I admit I was loving it when karma kicked their asses! When everything falls apart, the supernatural curse takes over. And no one wins except nature…” Morbidly Beautiful

Stay Out Stay Alive has some interesting concepts that utilized true facts with supernatural mythology and though the majority of the pieces were there, it just needed more momentum and additional fine tuning to really stand out among its other horror contemporaries.” Nightmarish Conjurings

“Yurke shows real promise as a cinematographer, and I think he’ll make a fine director. The story is solid, and the foundation curse is pretty good as well, but as a writer of dialogue, he has a way to go. The plot is fairly predictable, and the film is at its weakest at the emotional high points of the film.” The Scariest Things

“The production’s decision to cast actors slightly older than your average cabin-in-the-woods horror kids works in favour of the deeper themes at play and serves to elevate the psychological drama of Yurke’s narrative. Relationship dynamics, patriarchal hierarchy and middle-class entitlement all surface as rapidly as the storm waters that threaten the valley, each bringing a heightened and masterfully sustained tension between the characters.” Screen-Space

“The premise lends itself to a lot of exposition regarding curses and inhuman events that happened during the Gold Rush that benefit the sense of unease in the film. We see well-rendered creatures in the shadows and the darkened woods that work perfectly for any haunted horror story.” Trouble City

” …Stay Out Stay Alive is a solid film. There’s not much in the way of jump scares, it leans more on atmosphere and suspense. And it does build a lot of that, especially in the final act.” Voices from the Balcony


Stay Out Stay Alive was released in the U.S. by Gravitas Ventures on VOD, DVD, and Blu-ray on November 26th. Buy: Amazon

Cast and characters:

  • Barbara Crampton … Ranger Susanna
  • Christina July Kim … Amy
  • Sage Mears … Donna
  • Brie Mattson … Bridget
  • David Fine … Officer Drake
  • Brandon Wardle … Reese
  • William Romano-Pugh … Kyle

Filming locations:

San Francisco Bay Area, California

Technical details:

  • 85 minutes
  • Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1


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