Review: Stay Alive

The best part of going to a teen movie with your daughter is you get to spend a little quality time with her. This is increasingly challenging the older my daughter gets (she is sixteen). The trailer for the movie Stay Alive looked interesting. Alas, the trailer was the best part of the movie. Truth in marketing should require the movie to be renamed “Stay Awake”.

Yech! To quote another movie (“Ghostbusters”), “I’ve been slimed.” It is not accurate to say the movie has absolutely no redeeming values. It is just that you have to look pretty darn hard to find anything about it to recommend. Even my daughter laughed when the movie was over and agreed, “It was a terrible movie.” Considering we paid full price to see the movie, I feel doubly ripped off. It wouldn’t have been worth the matinee price either, but at least the damage to my wallet would have been less.

The premise is that a “Beta” online video game a group of very young adults are playing together called “Stay Alive” becomes more than escapist entertainment. If your character dies in the game, you die too, in exactly the same way your character died in the game. This becomes increasingly absurd as more than one of the disposable teenagers/young adult actors gets run over by (and I swear I am not making this up) a horse drawn carriage.

The plot is allegedly based on the real life story of a 17th century “Blood Countess”, although it was updated to take place in a modern pre-Katrina New Orleans. Fortunately, this half-dead Blood Countess picks some of our society’s most dispensable citizens. Each of the teens/young adults in this movie are mere stereotypes, and annoying stereotypes at that. Truly, we are better off as a society with them dispatched to some other world, so the Blood Countess is really doing society a favor. A cop or two also meets his untimely reward along the way but hey, these are New Orleans cops.

Perhaps one-dimensional teenagers are now par for the course. I would like to think that when I was their age I had more personality and a larger vocabulary. For a movie that was supposed to be scary, it was anything but. Can you say “foreshadowing”? I knew you could. If you cannot foretell when one of these cardboard characters is going to bite the big one, then you have oatmeal for brains.

While the movie was not filmed on a shoestring, it was obviously a low budget movie. Clearly not much money was spent on the virtually unknown “actors” that were hired. More money was spent on special effects and dressing up the faux creepy New Orleans mansion where some of the ending climactic scenes occur. This was a movie though that could not even afford a car wreck. In one scene, a guy sees a ghost on a backwater bayou road. He swerves but his car is left without a scratch. He gets out of his car to try to find the girl he thought he hit, to be shortly run over by, you guessed it, a horse drawn carriage. Here’s an idea. Get in your car. Let’s see a horse drawn carriage get over that. (Or for that matter, in the cemetery scene, simply hide out between the many mausoleums. Ain’t no carriage that will get between them either.)

The “actors” play vapid teenagers/young adults reasonably well, so in that sense they acted. The biggest problem with the movie is that it lacks any suspense whatsoever. You know what will happen since it is first shown in the video game. To keep yourself awake, you can simply hope that every one of these thinly drawn characters is wiped out. Alas, two of the more vapid teens manage to make it out of the movie alive. You though might want to check your pulse before leaving the theater, to ensure you didn’t die of boredom.

The movie’s saving grace is its short playing time: 85 minutes. This is not even a movie worth renting for a buck at a discount dollar DVD rental. If you happen to own a copy, its most important use will be as a coaster.

1.8 on my 5.0 scale. Unfortunately, I have seen worse than this, but have rarely paid so much for virtually no value.

I would review this movie more but alas, I have already wasted far more time warning you about it than it merits. Give it wide berth.

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