Techno-horror is a relatively new sub-genre introduced in the horror movie industry, garnering moderate success in the recent decade. Many film producers became interested in this sub-genre with horror movies like The Ring and the Unfriended series.
Netflix gained massive success producing Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, consisting of the retro ‘80s games being the horror elements and being the whole movie interactive for the audience. Recent Netflix release Choose or Die has the same retro ‘80s games as the central horror theme, albeit more sinister in its implications.
The movie centres around Kayla, a struggling college dropout who works hard to make ends meet living with her drug-addicted mother. In her free time, she learns coding from her friend Isaac to get a better job, only to get rejected for inexperience.
In Isaac’s room, she discovers a retro game cassette from the ‘80s named ‘Curs>r,’ with an unclaimed prize of USD 1,25,000 if the player completes it.
Finding a way out of poverty, Kayla takes the game to play. Little did she know that the game would manipulate her life and harm the people surrounding her.
Curs>r may seem like a text-based adventure game from the 1980s. But as Kayla starts playing the game, she realises the game makes her complete each level at a specific time and will kill people she knows or make her live through her trauma.
Her computer geek friend Isaac finds out that the game’s codes are created with specific curses that impact the plane of reality and will harm anyone the curser wants to curse.
Kayla and Isaac try to end this nightmarish game by cheating, by which Isaac gets killed horribly. Can Kayla end the curse? Who is the creator behind the murderous game? The question continues.
Choose or Die has a creepy vibe and uncomfortable aura throughout the film, even though there are no ghosts or grotesque monsters unlike in other horror movies.
The sudden screeching sound of the game ordering the player between choosing or dying is used multiple times, making the potential jumpscare monotonous.
This movie had many chances of creating jumpscares but failed to use them effectively. Director Toby Meakins focused on making the film spine-chilling as a whole but added vigilante elements at the end, weakening the horror movie plot.
The idea of the brutal game from the ‘80s killing people may seem like a genuine idea. But this idea was used before and the repetitive use doesn’t make the film unique. Hence, the movie loses the charm of being one of the memorable horror movies even though it had potential with a big budget.
Nonetheless, Choose or Die has become one of the Netflix horror failures exploiting the ingenuine plot technique to attract horror movie enthusiasts.