'Choose or Die' review: No good choices in retro-gaming horror movie

Choose to do something else with your time.

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

A cheapo horror exercise that's forgotten before the end credits roll, "Choose or Die" is centered on a cursed retro video game that presents its users with a deadly set of options. 

They're forced to choose between something bad happening to someone else or they themselves can die. Hmm, is there a third option? How about popping out the game and blowing on the cartridge, because this baby needs a reset. 

Asa Butterfield in "Choose or Die."

Asa Butterfield ("Hugo") is Isaac, an '80s obsessive who declares the days of Ronald Reagan and Freddy Krueger "the greatest decade in pop culture history." His friend Kayla (Iola Evans), on whom he harbors a healthy crush, finds an old computer game named "Curs>r" in a pile of his junk and decides to give it a go.

We learn the game — which hails from the pre-8 bit days, with a black screen, green typeface and blinking cursor — has a supernatural quality and is able to manipulate real life. And soon Kayla finds herself playing with the fates of others, an unwilling participant in a game with a grim set of stakes. 

In his feature film debut, director Toby Meakins, who also co-wrote the screenplay, renders this murky material unsettling if not entirely scary; one sequence finds a waitress eating shards of glass and unable to stop because, you know, the game. Attempts to make it all make sense don't pan out, but we do get a voice-only cameo from Mr. Krueger himself, Robert Englund. Turns out his appearance is entirely phoned in, which for this movie was the right choice.  



'Choose or Die'


Not rated

85 minutes

On Netflix