This dry as a bone “horror” entry is part “Dream Warriors”, part “The Ring”, with neither of the characters is developed beyond your basic concepts upon which they’re established. And there are also your usual under-developed back stories that Bell limps along with for no reason. Here’s the hero who has a fear of fire. Why? Well—who cares? Look! A ghost! How can we root for characters whom are basic morons? Perhaps it’s Bell’s allusion that gamers in general, are morons. Not that hard to believe, when you think about it. The characters that are supposed to die die.
But the main characters are never offed until it’s convenient to the story. And they’re killed in some rather stupid fashions. One of them is run over by a horse and carriage, another is hung upside down and has her throat slashed (sans the blood) thanks to a monster that is ridiculously fail safe. Elizabeth Bathory, Bloody Mary—the same stock monster you always get with these low-tech horror films. Bell never gets a full grasp on his own concept, which reflects rather strongly on-screen. How can the demon control forces beyond the game’s realm? What was the hinted connection between Hutch and the game all about? Bell is incredibly dependent on the dues ex machinas, which he throws at us at an almost rapid fire pace.
Especially, the ridiculous plot twists involving a laptop, and an obvious product placement in the climax. I never expected a masterpiece from a film whose tagline is “You die in the game, you die for real”. That limp ad-line doesn’t particularly spark creativity to me. I wasn’t expecting originality from a film about a game that–when played—kills you a few days later. Hell, there’s even the Asian looking mysterious female ghost hiding within the game to off the players. But, with “Stay Alive”, I never really expected something so utterly lame-brained. Bell has the right mood and atmosphere, and the game is cool, but “Stay Alive” is a completely missed golden opportunity.