Stay Alive gets around this conundrum easily by knocking off The Ring and throwing in a little of the Final Destination series: the former's ghostly gimmick mixed with the latter's view of life as an elaborate series of macabre booby traps. Unfortunately, even the cut-and-paste is botched; no Ring-style tension builds, and the PG-13 rating curtails the death scenes, most of which all but cut away before the character's gory fate is sealed. Yes, you read that right: Stay Alive is like a Final Destination movie without the death scenes.
It would help - it usually would - if any of the characters sparked even minimal interest. Here we have the conflicted, haunted hero (Jon Foster) and the mysterious new love object (Samaire Armstrong), flanked by some more subculture-specific stereotypes: the callous, hardcore gamer/stoner (Jimmi Simpson), his goth sister (Sophia Bush), and a nerdy tech-head (Frankie Muniz). Yes, you read that right: Stay Alive's biggest star is Frankie Muniz. The rest of the characters keep telling him to shut up, which seems perfectly natural at first, until you realize he's the only one who displays even a modicum evidence of thought about videogames and the world around him.
But the movie is less interested in the gaming culture than in making the backstory of its villain as generically spooky as possible. The idea of a horror movie set within a particular youth subculture is actually pretty neat, and hopefully won't die along with Stay Alive's characters, momentum, and thrills. I eagerly await the emo-scene version, where My Chemical Romance groupies are haunted and picked off by a harpie killed in a freakish Hot Topic accident.
Besides its squandering of an ultra-high concept, Stay Alive is not really much worse than any other teen-targeted horror movie that refuses to be screened for critics. It makes minimal sense, displays minimal style, and provides minimal entertainment until it finally ends and provides a maxi-sized opening for a sequel. Yes, you read that right: At this time next year, I could be reviewing Stay Aliver.
Where's Travolta when you need him?
Run time: 85 mins
In Theaters: Friday 24th March 2006
Box Office USA: $23.0M
Box Office Worldwide: $27.1M
Distributed by: Buena Vista
Production compaines: Hollywood Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, Endgame Entertainment, Wonderland Sound and Vision
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 9%
Fresh: 5 Rotten: 53
IMDB: 5.0 / 10
Director: William Brent Bell
Screenwriter: William Brent Bell, Matthew Peterman
Starring: Jon Foster as Hutch, Samaire Armstrong as Abigail, Frankie Muniz as Swink, Jimmi Simpson as Phineus, Wendell Pierce as Detective Thibodeaux, Milo Ventimiglia as Loomis Crowley, Sophia Bush as October, Adam Goldberg as Miller Banks, Billy Slaughter as Rex, Nicole Oppermann as Sarah, April Wood as Loretta, Rio Hackford as Detective King, Billy Louviere as Fidget, Monica Monica as Mrs. Crowley, Maria Kalinina as Countess, Rick Green as Stay Alive Game Voice-Over, J. Richey Nash as Young Rookie, Lauren Lorbeck as Emma, Veronica Mosgrove as News Reporter, James Haven as Jonathan Malkus