Choose or Die is a 2021 British horror film about a young woman who comes to regret playing a 1980s survival computer game.
Directed by Toby Meakins from a screenplay written by Simon Allen. Produced by Sebastien Raybaud, John Zois and Matthew James Wilkinson.
The Anton-Stigma Films production stars Asa Butterfield, Iola Evans, Eddie Marsan and the voice of Robert Englund. The remainder of the main cast is Angela Griffin, Kate Fleetwood, Ryan Gage and Joe Bolland.
In pursuit of an unclaimed $125,000 prize, a broke college dropout (Iola Evans) decides to play an obscure, 1980s survival computer game. However, the game curses her, and she’s faced with dangerous choices and reality-warping challenges.
After a series of unexpectedly terrifying moments, she realises she’s no longer playing for the money, but for her life. The game locks her into an inescapable cycle of mind-bending horror.
“It’s a simple setup executed well, with some clever stylistic flourishes. The pacing is lean and brisk, with a steady build in horror and stakes. Kayla makes for a great teen heroine, too. But the narrative never ventures too deep beneath the surface…” 3/5 Bloody Disgusting
“As Kayla and Isaac learn more about what’s really going on with Curs>r, the video game connections become even more tenuous, and the filmmakers fail to find an original approach to the stock horror elements […] Choose or Die is a disposable, forgettable modern horror movie that lacks the creativity and ingenuity of its rudimentary text-based inspirations.” CBR
“Choose or Die is superficial in structure as well as story […] The movie loads up on unnecessary characters, unnecessary scenes, and unnecessary threads, leading to a disjointed narrative that hasn’t thought through the function of its fiction.” 35/100 Culture Crypt
“In his feature film debut, director Toby Meakins […] renders this murky material unsettling if not entirely scary; one sequence finds a waitress eating shards of glass and unable to stop because, you know, the game. Attempts to make it all make sense don’t pan out, but we do get a voice-only cameo from Mr Krueger himself, Robert Englund.” Grade: D The Detroit News
“It’s entertaining and delivers on the ‘what would you do’ premise, but ends up being too slight for its own good. Kayla gets the biggest emotional arc of the movie and it still ends up fairly one-note, while the secrets of CURS>R are revealed in a big exposition dump that stalls momentum. There’s still a lot to like in Choose or Die for horror fans…” 3/5 Digital Spy
“Choose or Die isn’t a bad film, but it’s hard to ignore how safe it plays it. Never too retro, never all that scary or gory, and never fully embracing the elements most likely to hook you into its premise, Choose or Die should be a crazy trip down memory lane for ’80s kids, but it just ends up going places we’ve seen too much of lately.” Digital Trends
“The good news is that when Choose or Die routinely gets to the demented game itself; it typically thrills with clever ideas and vicious outcomes, so no round feels the same […] the film is also simply too overstuffed and fails at nearly every story beat it is going for to thoroughly recommend, and that’s without getting into the sequel-baiting involving an evil corporation.” Flickering Myth
“Evans does a great job playing the film’s lead protagonist, Kayla. And while I would have loved for it to sport a more dreadful atmosphere, own its own, that doesn’t ruin any otherwise good experience. Essentially, Choose or Die is a solid B-film that’s worth checking out on a Friday night.” 7/10 Gamespot
“The script, from TV writer Simon Allen, acts as mostly just pedestrian framework for the game scenes, which thankfully do arrive quite often. The specifics of the plot make little to no real sense, even in the moment, but that won’t much matter to the sleepover crowd, who’ll be too distracted by the nasty noise of it all.” 2/5 The Guardian
“Sure, Choose or Die does seem very familiar in many ways. From watching the trailer, I was intrigued and expected entertainment, but not much more. I mean, it does feature the classic survival movie formula with lots of creepy supernatural elements and a curse to drive the plot. But who cares that it’s familiar when it works this well and manages to feel fresh and innovative.” Heaven of Horror
“The scares are soon replaced with a meandering plot that doesn’t quite know what it’s doing, held together with obscure twists that would only make sense in a low-budget retro text adventure. Asa Butterfield brings a solid performance alongside Evans, but there’s little either of them can do to save Choose or Die. Game over, man.” 5/10 IGN
“The brisk and clever horror thriller pushes the idea of a cursed survival game to sinister ends, creating a world where every choice has cruel — and very real — consequences. Anchored by a scrappy coder heroine named Kayla (Iola Evans), whose tough exterior is armor for a difficult home life, the film offers a fresh take on a smart concept through the eyes of a compelling teenager.” Grade: B+ IndieWire
“Starting off strong enough, the film falls off the rails and loses sight of itself while making it into a compelling enough narrative to justify that running time. Boosting a cool vibe and some decent lead performances from Iola Evans and Asa Butterfield, at least it’s not an absolute train wreck…” 65% Keith Loves Movies
“Meakins and Allen keep the audience guessing as to whether Kayla is hallucinating the grotesque scenarios the game keeps throwing at her. That mystery ultimately proves less compelling than the scenarios themselves, which range from mildly off-putting to downright stomach-turning — but which are always fiendishly well-constructed.” Los Angeles Times
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