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Although off to a promising start, Choose or Die loses its way and ends up being a dubious mess that leaves viewers with more questions than they started with.
Last Updated: 04.03 PM, Apr 16, 2022
Kayla(Iola Evans), a college dropout and aspiring coder, struggles to make ends meet as a window cleaner, all the while grieving from a personal tragedy from her past. When she comes across an old video game, Curser, that seems to offer a lucrative cash prize to anyone who can complete it, Kayla decides to try her luck at it. But she soon realises that the stakes of the game are much higher than she anticipated.
Choose or Die joins the long list of Netflix films that ends up being more style and substance. It has an incredibly engrossing premise which is full of promise till it ultimately comes undone due to a lack of clarity and vision by its makers.
Viewers are teased into what they can expect from the film right at the beginning. With blood, gore and some very unsettling depictions of torture, the game almost seems like a desperate attempt to delude viewers into thinking that the film would only get progressively interesting as its story moves further, which sadly ends up not being the case at all.
To the film’s credit, it does start off on an intriguing enough note. The struggling protagonist’s predictable, sympathy inducing backstory aside, the film’s basic premise of a video game, ironically, playing a twisted game with its unsuspecting victims, may not be a groundbreaking concept but it did hold a lot of promise and would have held its own in films of the genre had its execution been done right.
Other than the sleazy way the game tortures its victims, Kayla’s tragic backstory too seems to serve as nothing short of a hopeless attempt at promising something interesting for viewers. This also does not pan out favourably for audiences who are tricked into being invested with little to no payoff. The character’s grief seems to lead nowhere, only serving as another bizarre opportunity for her victimisation by the game rather than something which could usher in any character development. In the end Kayla’s past tragedy is insensitively shoved down to make way for the film’s lacklustre ending.
A half baked explanation or lack thereof, as to what is the actual reason behind the ‘cursed’ game, seems to be something the writers cooked up at the last minute with their deadlines running. This leads to an unsatisfactory ending that leaves viewers with more questions than they would have started with and the whole third act leading up to the ‘big reveal’ feels incredibly rushed and poorly executed as well.
Although Sex Education’s Asa Butterfield tries to hold his own in the limited space he is given in the story, his incredibly uninspired, bland character of Isaac ‘the friendzoned sidekick in love’ does not hold much room for making an impact in the film. Even the fate Isaac’s character is dealt with screams ‘cliché’. Iola Evans too tries to do as much as she can with what she is given, which isn’t a lot either in terms of her one dimensional character.
Although Choose or Die’s premise of a killer video game is inherently intriguing, it squanders its promise entirely. Viewers are left with a disappointing, unsatisfactory ending that will make you wish you had not started watching it.
Choose or Die is available to stream on Netflix.