Stay Alive: Unrated Director’s Cut

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Tom Reding

Plot: What’s it about?

“You Die In The Game – You Die For Real.” The tagline for the movie pretty much sums up all your about to see in this one. When Loomis (Milo Ventimiglia) gets a hold of a game he’s not supposed to have. After playing the game and dying, he turns in for the night. Awaken in the middle of the night, he goes downstairs to the kitchen. On his way back upstairs he starts hearing weird noises. Quick cut and he’s pushed through the railing from the second floor and hung by his neck from the ceiling, the same way he died in the game. At the funeral, his best friend Hutch (Jon Foster) receives a bag of Loomis’ old video games from his sister. Of course the first game him and his friends pull out is entitled “Stay Alive”. It looks very underground, no packaging, just a CD in a case. Naturally this sparks their interest so they pop it in. After playing for a little while, Hutch’s boss Miller (Adam Goldberg) who is playing from a remote location on-line with them, is killed in the game. Soon after he is found dead in his office the same way he was found dead in the game. Things begin to fall into place and the remaining friends begin to figure out more and more to the puzzle, but not before a few more of them are killed off.

As in any horror movie there have to be bodies and creative ways to make those bodies dead, and Stay Alive falls a little short. There have been some pretty bad video game horror movies recently, most notably “House of The Dead” and even though some people liked it, “Silent Hill” is nothing to brag about either, but “Stay Alive” takes the idea of a video game movie and uses it a little differently. Instead of being based on a game, the movie IS the game, in a way. I came into this one expecting the worst based on what I had heard while it was in theaters and although it wasn’t the best horror movie of late, it did have its decent moments. It does a pretty good job of setting the atmosphere at the beginning, but towards the middle it falls off and just becomes your typical teen horror movie.

Video: How does it look?

The video is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and looks really good. Majority of the movie takes place in very dark situations and the video holds up very well. All of the darks are very solid and crisp, never any artifacts and barely any noise. I can only recall one scene that had noticeable noise. Even though the movie is supposed to be dark, at times I found it more annoying than helpful to the atmosphere. I’m sure it’s the way the movie was shot and not the transfer to DVD, but some scenes are really dark to the point where it’s hard to really make anything out. But the overall transfer to DVD looks very crisp and clear.

Audio: How does it sound?

Presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital, the audio wasn’t the greatest, but wasn’t horrible either. The movie cuts to a lot of “in-game” sequences which provide a decent amount of surround noise, but during the movie there isn’t much going on around us other than what’s in front. The times during the movie where the surround is used to enhance the atmosphere it does help out, but not a lot. I only noticed a few sounds coming from behind me, but the sub woofer was going crazy, that’s for sure. So overall not the greatest soundtrack, but I’ve heard worse, It’s not going to make or break this movie.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The first obvious “extra”, if you can call it that, is found right on the main menu screen of the DVD. You get to create a character and then “Activate” it and see if you’ve, uh, won I guess. First you choose which character you want, then the shirt they are wearing and then the weapon, finally you press the “Activate” button. If your wrong the screen flashes one of the creepy characters from the movie and says “wrong”. I got bored with this feature very quickly, but did manage to get it right once and all it did was changed the DVD menu a scene that centered on the character I made (from the movie). Seems like a pointless feature if you ask me, which brings me to the next feature. This one seemed as equally pointless as the interactive menu character builder. The “Visual Effects Reel” is about a minute long and is just really quick flashes of some of the “in-game” scenes in the movie and their real life counterparts. It also includes a few shots of the animation team doing their thing, but this one was pretty pointless too. I kept thinking that it was just the introduction to the actual “Visual Effects Reel” but I was quite disappointed when it turned out to be the actual reel itself, I’m glad it was only a minute long. So with 2 worthless features on the DVD that just leaves us with the commentary track from the writer and director. The only interesting parts of this is the fact that they mention where the director’s cut varies from the theatrical release, but other than that nothing too exciting here.

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