‘Choose or Die’ Review: Retro Games Might Be Dangerous for Your Health

'Choose or Die' Review: Retro Games Might be Dangerous For Your Health

Choose or Die is Netflix’s movie of the week, and it works just like the rest of them. In order to pull off the incredible amount of content that is being released each month on the platform, Netflix seems to be investing less and less money in its productions. Choose or Die is just the latest entry in a series of low-budget efforts that serve only to fill the streaming platform’s roster, but in no way whatsoever to bring quality to the platform. Sadly, Netflix has become the place where straight-to-video films go to rest.

This doesn’t mean that there isn’t any real value in these movies at all. These productions are made with love and represent hard work. However, time and time again, Netflix proves that these productions are there only to be released and later forgotten as soon as the film is over. No one will remember Choose or Die next week. No one will probably remember it past this weekend, but why?

Choose or Die is directed by Toby Meakins and stars Asa Butterfield, Iola Evans, and Eddie Marsan. The film tells the story of Kayla, a young woman going through a bad patch in her life after a family tragedy. When Kayla and her friend Isaac discover an old computer game, their lives change completely as they discover that the game might be trying to kill them.

'Choose or Die' Review: Retro Games Might be Dangerous For Your Health

To be fair, the first act of Choose or Die is quite decent. The film knows how to set up the characters and stakes in the best way possible. By the end of that first act, the premise, characters, and the world are set up in such a way that the possibilities of the story are quite open. Anything can happen, and following the expectations set by the movie itself, we should be in for a clever ride, full of twists and lots of tension. 

However, that is not the case. Choose or Die never really fulfills the promise of its first act. The plotlines feel shortened out, forgotten, or even misunderstood, and the story quickly falls into the classic run in circles. Towards the end of the movie, it feels like everything that has happened so far doesn’t really matter. There is just no weight to anything happening in this movie, and that is quite a shame. For a movie that is just around the 80-minute mark, it feels slow and purposeless.

The acting is fine, Iola Evans does a fine job as the movie’s lead. The actress manages to show Kayla’s waste of talent and the love she feels for others, as well as her own insecurities as a person. It would have been awesome if the movie around Evans had matched her talent, but it never does. 

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For example, Asa Butterfield, an already proven actor, feels completely wasted here, a complete miscast. The actor mumbles here and there and calls it a day. We have seen so much better from Asa, so seeing him act just fine, feels like a step-down for him as a performer.

The rest of the cast is just there. There’s really nothing to talk about because the movie focuses so little on them. Marsan, for example, is just doing exactly what he always does. Which is, again, fine. But the lack of risk, intensity, and basically anything interesting, really hurts this movie’s fun factor.

Visually, Meakins and his team are trying to do the best they can with the available resources. However, in a landscape where these virtual reality movies or the technology itself feels strange and captivating in real life, the film’s take on the technology feels out of touch and campy. The movie really tries hard to be a horror film, but it is often more laughable than anything else. 

Being able to work within your own limitations is always a good thing, but sometimes filmmakers let themselves be seduced by their own ambitions, and the result is something that should not be. This is something that happens at all levels. Even the Moon Knight show on Disney+ is having those same issues, so it seems to be systematic at this point.

Which Netflix movie will be the one to break the camel’s back? At this point, it appears that Netflix may be losing subscribers due to the poor quality of its content. Thankfully, the streaming service still has some cool shows under its belt, but it seems like they are fewer and far between. In comparison, it seems other services are pushing for more quality instead of quantity. It is complicated, but it will be interesting to see what happens next. 

Choose or Die serves well, if you need to fill 80 minutes of your time with something. The first act is quite nice and Evans is a surprise. Let’s hope she can find more projects in the future. Nevertheless, it feels like audiences could be spending their precious time on something else, especially now with so much quality content being released every single day of the week.

SCORE: 5/10

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.