Do it 'til you go blind, and do it 'til you die. Stay Alive is the movie to get parents to keep their kids from playing video games. And yes, you'll jump a few times, too.
A group gets together for the funeral of a friend--but this is no Big Chill. The friends have goofy nicknames--Swink (Frankie Muniz), Loomis (Milo Ventimiglia), October (Sophia Bush), Hutch (Jon Foster), Fidget (Billy Louviere), Abigail (Samaire Armstrong) and Phineas (Jimmi Simpson)--and they're all gaming freaks. They notice that their pal's death may have some bizarre connection to a game he was playing at the time, so they play the reality-like game about a countess who kills schoolgirls. And one by one, they, too, drop dead--dying in creepy and uncanny ways, very similar to how they die in game. It doesn't matter how well they play, it's not going to keep them away from the real-life version of the Blood Countess (Maria Kalinina) and the ghosts of the girls she's killed.
How loud can an actress scream? Well, the screams that come from intense and beautiful blonde Armstrong (HBO's Entourage) as Abigail are sure to send chills up and down anyone's spine. She exhibits pure fear when witnessing how the game she plays becomes reality in front of her. Muniz (TV's Malcolm in the Middle) seems to look befuddled and wide-eyed, much like he has done throughout his TV career. Simpson (D.E.B.S.) is a delightful ''whatever''-like slacker and Foster (Door in the Floor) provides the necessary hunk factor. Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan) as the sensible Miller is the best actor of the bunch, but he unfortunately doesn't last too long in the film (and no, that's not really a spoiler, since it's all in the trailers, too.)
Director William Brent Bell and his longtime friend and writing partner Matthew Peterman don't base Stay Alive on an actual video game but instead create a film around a game that they would like to play. It takes players through a gothic house in New Orleans where the Blood Countess has tortured schoolgirls and used their blood to keep her young. Opening doors throughout the house reveals blood-soaked rooms, shackles and chains, scary white-faced ghosts, creatures that walk on the ceiling and dead ends. Then the Countess herself materializes as a kind of Freddy Krueger that snatches kids and kills them in the same gruesome ways their characters die in the game. Unfortunately, Stay Alive is a PG-13 rating, so obviously the blood and guts aren't too intense--and that may be part of the problem. Die-hard genre fans are going to want more.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.