Star Rating:

Choose Or Die 16+

Streaming On: Watch Choose Or Die on Netflix

Actors: Asa Butterfield

Release Date: Friday 15th April 2022

Running time: 85 minutes

The A24 brand of horror has become a recipe for box office gold and critical acclaim, but ‘Choose Or Die’ tries to appeal to horror fans who want their horror films to be presented without allegory.

‘Choose Or Die’ is unapologetic in being a love letter to 1980s horror, with a poster for the original ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ prominently displayed in the films striking opening sequence, and drafting in Freddy Krueger himself (Robert Englund) as a voice cameo.

Analogue technology plays a large part in the film's plot too, making the film a dream come true for fans of cassette tapes and other forms of old technology.

The core premise of the film hinges on an old video game driving players to complete even more sadistic tasks, and the premise leaves room for a solid franchise.

The film is over in less than 80 minutes, but ‘Choose Or Die’ goes for a truly novel approach.

The film manages to have a glacial, slow pace despite being less than 80 minutes long, and it takes a prodigious director to mess up such a fundamental part of filmmaking.

The premise is simple, and is ‘Saw’ like in its efficiency; it’s a shame that the film opts to forget the core premise in an attempt to poorly flesh out its main characters.

Asa Butterfield of ‘Sex Education’ and newcomer lola Evans work hard to create sympathy for the characters, but are let down by the script.

In writing, there are eight words that every writer should fear: “I don’t care what happens to these people.”

Butterfield and Evans have decent chemistry, but the character work is so hackneyed and forced you feel the urge to reach for the fast-forward button.

Yes, films need to flesh out their characters in order to make the story work, but when the writing is as shoddy as what’s on display here you’re left wanting to just watch your Blu-Ray of ‘Evil Dead 2’ instead.

Horror films have a tradition of tackling social issues, with last year’s ‘Candyman’ remake exploring race relations and gentrification in contemporary America or the films of Jordan Peele exploring identity and equality.

‘Choose Or Die’ does the absolute bare minimum to flesh out the world of the film and the characters, and gives viewers next to nothing to work off, with a sub-plot about generational trauma handled with the subtlety of a bull in a china shop.

When the film opts to poorly flesh out the characters and world at the expense of the horror elements, you’re left reaching for the phone.

By the end of the film, you barely remember the characters' names.

When the film remembers that it’s a horror film however, it’s worth the price of admission.

The gore in the film is pleasingly nasty, and the film knows when to deploy these shocking moments.

There are a few interesting and memorable shots that elevate the film to the heights of a tepid recommendation for horror fans.

The third act ratchets up the gore factor, with one incredibly arresting and disturbing sequence that is sure to make the squeamish among us watch from behind their hands.

In these moments, the film lives up to its premise as a ‘Saw’ film told through the lens of a ‘Black Mirror’ episode, but with its poor character work, the film would have been better off as an episode of television.

‘Choose Or Die’ is the directorial debut for British director Tobey Meakins, and there are enough fun visual flourishes here to make the director one to watch going forward.

Netflix successfully gave us a throwback horror series with the excellent ‘Fear Street’ films, which combined the gore and scares you’d expect with some strong character work.

‘Choose Or Die’ has the visual elements down, but the writing here turns a promising premise for a film into a trumped-up student film.