Tuesday, October 3, 2006


Buena Vista recently sent me a copy of one of their latest teen horror flicks, STAY ALIVE (2006), and while it’s no classic, I found it entertaining.

The premise is that there's this "underground" survival/horror video game, called – you guessed it – Stay Alive, and if you play it, you unleash the evil of the game story into the real world. Even worse – as the ad copy makes explicit – if you die in the game, you suffer the same fatal fate in reality, at the hands of the Blood Countess.

The nonsensical story incorporates (and takes great liberties with) the legend of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who, so obsessed with maintaining her youth and beauty, took to slaughtering female virgins and bathing in their blood. According to the film, the Countess apparently fled Europe for the American South, where she resumed her sanguinary beauty treatments at a local plantation. It is this plantation that is the setting for the video game.

The cast is made up of your usual group of attractive, young twenty-somethings. The only face that was familiar to me was Agent Cody Banks himself, Frankie Muniz, as one of the die-hard gamers who uncover the game's sinister secret.

Sure, the dialogue is cheesy, the story logic lacking, and you don't have to have seen as many horror movies as I have to figure out by the end of the first act which characters are going to die and which are going to survive, but it's fairly well acted (as these kinds of flicks go) and the direction by William Brent Bell is basically competent and occasionally suspenseful.

STAY ALIVE is available in two different DVD editions – as a full-frame, PG-13 version which not only cuts out almost all of the (already minimal) gore and profanity, not to mention nearly half of the picture, and an unrated, 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen version. Obviously, the unrated, widescreen edition is the preferable one. Bonus features include a filmmaker commentary with the director, a Visual Effects featurette and an interactive game that you can play with the disc menus and your remote control.

Not a great horror film by any stretch, but I found it entertaining, and will probably watch it again one of these days. You might find it worth a rental, if you’re feeling undemanding.

BUY: Stay Alive - The Director's Cut (Widescreen Edition)