I have played video games based on movies and a few have been great fun (Star Wars - we're talking 1980's arcade action), but most weren't very playable (The Matrix ). I have watched movies based on video games (Tomb Raider), and watched movies based on video games based on movies(Resident Evil) and they all have been uniformly bad. But Jeebus preserve me from movies about video games because they have all sucked. (Remember The Wizard? Brain Scan? Be very glad if you don't). Stay Alive, I'm sorry to say, has preseved that fine tradition of suckage.
Hutch O'Neill (John Foster) loses a good friend and that friend's sister to a bizarre set of murders. He is given his friend's video games, which includes "Stay Alive", one that neither he nor his gaming buddies have ever heard of. So on their gaming night, they plug it in and find themselves playing a creepy survival-horror game. One of their friends who is networked in dies in the game, and is shortly murdered in the same fashion as his character did. For the rest of the movie Hutch and his rapidly-dwindling number of friends try to find out the story behind the game, and keep from being murdered themselves.
ARGH. How does Stay
Awake Alive aggravate me? Let me count the ways: Like many horror movies the characters are just plain stupid but these folks are beyond the pale. I'm not just talking about splitting up when the danger is at its worst, but when they put 2 and 2 together, none of them try to destroy the freaking game! Smash the DVD, erase the hard drive, hell, take a big magnet to it or a sledge hammer! But that may not have worked admittedly because after setting up the movie's rules, the screenplay proceeds to ditch the rules when it's convenient. And worst of all it's just plain boring. The characters range from uninteresting to odious - one of Hutch's gaming friends, Phieneas (Jimmi Simpson), looks and behaves like a poor man's Mathew Lillard, and how pathetic is that? There are too many borrowed ideas and plot holes to go into so I'll quit ranting now.
The DVD itself is standard issue, with only a few extras. Unfortunately one of them was a commentary by writer/director William Brent Bell and writer/producer Mathew Peterman so I had to watch the movie again and this time I had to listen to some uninteresting scene narration. Since this is the extended unrated Director's cut they did mention what was new but the extra scenes add nothing and the gore they cut to get a PG-13 that was added back is still pretty tame.
The DVD tries to be clever by allowing you to create a character in the menus. You have to make the right choices or else YOU LOSE. What happens if you make the correct choice? Why, you get to watch the movie! Seems to me you lose anyway. The scant other extras are as meh as everything else. The only thing I liked that was "extra" was a preview of Apocalypto.
On looking back at what I wrote, I realize I was pretty harsh to Stay Alive. I'll try to say one nice thing about it: the scenes where people are actually playing the game are interesting, especially when reality and the video game seem to merge. But to sum it up at all it is merely bad, and not an out and out suck-fest like the legendary Uwe Boll's House of the Dead. Maybe that's the sad part. It's not even awful enough to make much fun of. In this last wave of horror movies, Stay Alive is going to get washed under and forgotten.