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tarring: Asa Butterfield, Iola Evans, Eddie Marsan, Robert Englund, Kate Fleetwood, Ryan Gage, Angela Griffin, Joe Bolland
OUR RATING: ★★½
Netflix horror thriller film directed by Toby Meakins. Choose or Die (2022) follows two friends Kayla and Isaac (Iola Evans and Asa Butterfield), who after rebooting a mysterious 1980s survival horror game in pursuit of an unclaimed $125,000 prize, unleash a hidden curse that tears reality apart, forcing them to make terrifying decisions and face deadly consequences as they step into a surreal world of next-level terror.
Our Favorite Quote:'Sometimes, a curse can be a gift.' - Beck (Choose or Die) Click To Tweet
Gabe: [referring to Hal] He’s too busy living in the ’80s. He’s playing with his toys. His weird, creepy s**t.
Isaac: How’s that job hunt going?
Kayla: I’m on twenty-seven “f*** yous” and counting, so.
Isaac: That’s why you don’t drop out. You got to go back and graduate.
Isaac: Well, hey, look, once my game’s picked up, you can come program for me, full-time.
Kayla: At the House of Isaac?
Isaac: The House of Isaac?
Isaac: That’s actually pretty good.
Kayla: [referring to the game] What’s this?
Isaac: I don’t know? Looks like a bootleg.
Kayla: With a hundred twenty-five grand prize?
Isaac: Curser. That’s actually quite a good name. Not as good as Ghoster, but…
Kayla: Think the prize is still good?
Isaac: I don’t know. I mean, there are a ton of unclaimed prizes from retro games. Couple of months ago, I read about this guy. He was the first person in thirty-four years to complete Thou Art Dead. He found a treasure chest in a dungeon with a bank account number.
Robert Englund: [after Kayla rings the game’s number] Greetings, this is Robert Englund, horror royalty and Hollywood nightmare. Or should that be the other way around? If you’re listening to this, then you’re either a loser who isn’t paying Mommy and Daddy’s phone bill, or you have survived Curser. So, congratulations. You are worthy. Enter your four digit prize code after the tone. And remember, reality is cursed. Spend that money wisely, kiddos.
Isaac: Robert Englund?
Kayla: Who the f*** is that?
Isaac: Oh, come on.
Kayla: [referring to the game] Could be easy money.
Isaac: Yeah. Yeah. Wait, no. Technically, that is mine.
Kayla: You know Wilkies on 37th?
Isaac: Yes, I do.
Kayla: Meet me there tonight at 1:30?
Isaac: It’s a date.
Kayla: It’s a deal.
Kayla: Ever wonder why they have us doing this s**t?
Carmella: Because they think it’s all we’re good for.
Kayla: I mean, this place is f***ing empty. They got us cleaning the floors night after night.
Carmella: Oh, yeah. I’ve given it a lot of thought over the past few months. Pushed it around in my mind, you know? Really considered it. Last week, I finally settled on what you might call a firm conclusion. Long as they keep paying me, I don’t give a f***.
Kayla: [as she’s playing the game in the diner] Hey, how did you do that?
Grace: Do what?
Kayla: To my screen. The words came up right when you said them.
Grace: I think that maybe we both need some sleep.
Ricky: You have to choose, Kayla. Choose or die.
[after which Grace, the waitress, eats some broken glass, completing level 1]
Isaac: I don’t see how a video game can kill someone. I mean Pac-Man doesn’t go around eating people.
Kayla: So what? I know what I saw.
Isaac: Yeah. No, I know. And she sounds crazy.
Kayla: She’s not f***ing crazy. She was fine. Everything was fine, then the game took control.
Isaac: Is that what you told the cops?
Kayla: It’s what I’m telling you. You don’t believe me?
Isaac: Kayla. Hey, I want to believe you.
Kayla: Just tell me where it came from.
Isaac: I don’t know. I have no way of knowing. It’s house clearance. It’s just in a lot…
Kayla: What f***ing use are you?
Isaac: Wait. Let me do some research. I’ll get to the bottom of this.
Kayla: Yeah, you do that. You’re so f***ing smart.
Computer Narrator: Choose or die.
Thea: I don’t want to die. Kayla, I love you, and I am so sorry.
Kayla: Go to the window.
Thea: I can’t do it, Kayla!
Kayla: You have to!
Computer Narrator: Choose or die.
Computer Narrator: [as Kayla completes level 2 of the game] A worthy player. Same time again tomorrow for more terror.
Lance: What are you worth? Ten dollars? Fifteen for the hour?
Kayla: You take one more step, you’ll find out what I’m worth.
Kayla: You have to believe me.
Isaac: I believe you. Come inside.
Kayla: This is some f***ed up s**t, Isaac. You got to be sure before you get involved.
Isaac: I’m sure.
Isaac: I am going to reinvent the whole idea. So in my game, if you want to cheat, it’s going to cost you. Like it’s going to hurt.
'Remember, reality is the curse.' (Choose or Die) Click To Tweet
Isaac: Those designs you saw? Those are just sketches by the way. They don’t mean anything.
Kayla: I like that you made me look like a superhero.
Isaac: Well, got to make sure you use your powers wisely.
Isaac: This is our song.
Kayla: We don’t have a song.
Isaac: What do you mean? We listened to this like four times.
Kayla: That doesn’t make it our song.
Isaac: God, do you like anything about me?
Isaac: [to Kayla] “Level 3. You are with a loyal squire.” A squire? Have you been talking to this thing?
Isaac: It’s almost putting the words on the screen before I say them.
Isaac: “Help? No help?”
Kayla: Isaac, be careful. It’s going to try hurting you.
Isaac: My help?
Kayla: Isaac, we shouldn’t play. This was a bad idea.
Isaac: Choose or die? We got to choose, Kayla.
Kayla: No! We shouldn’t. No, stop. Stop!
Isaac: [as blue and red door appear in his room] That is some f***ed up s**t. I mean, how is that even possible?
Kayla: Blue or red?
Isaac: Never pick red. Trust me.
Ricky: [from behind the blue door] Die.
Isaac: What the f***? Well, red’s not so bad.
Isaac: [as they go behind the red door] What the f*** is this place?
Kayla: It’s where my brother drowned.
Ricky: I want to go swimming.
Isaac: No. Kayla. Kayla, remember. Remember, it’s not real. It knows you! Don’t let it play you!
Isaac: [after they’ve completed level] That wasn’t your brother back there, you know that.
Kayla: That’s why I chose you.
Kayla: [referring to how Ricky drowned] And this thing, it knew that. It made me do it with my own hands. It wanted to make me suffer.
Isaac: Someday you got to forgive yourself.
Isaac: [to Kayla] How much do you know about zines? The whole ’80s cult thing. And, no. I promise it’s not one of my obscure retro fetishes.
Kayla: You’re doing this because you want to help me, or you want to get with me?
Isaac: Both. Oh, one more thing. My car, my music.
Kayla: Oh, don’t make me listen to your s**t.
Isaac: No, you love my s**t.
Kayla: Isaac, come on. Watch where you’re going. Who taught you to drive?
Isaac: I taught myself. Mostly.
Beck: And we go back, March 12th, 1984 at 9:20 PM. This is the first Curser beta test. Since we first discovered the curse, we’ve been unable to identify its origins, or translate its exact meaning, but we know it has unusual properties. Its symbols seem to affect reality. Each of them means something. Fire. Water. And blood. Their power has lain dormant for centuries, but the myth suggests whenever they’ve been used against a person, or persons, they, well, they suffer.
Beck: Pain, fear, trauma. And the more the cursed suffer, the more the curser benefits. We’ve converted the original symbols into 8-bit equivalents, contained them within a simple horror game experience, Choose or Die.
Beck: I am the curser. As I cause suffering, I will reap the rewards.
Teen Gamer: “You’ve been waiting for hours. They promised you food, but where is it? Eat the computer? Eat your arm?” What is this, man?
Beck: Just choose one.
Beck: Sometimes, a curse can be a gift.
Beck: Level four. You’re in 1984.
Isaac: We got to go. Kayla, we got to go!
Beck: I’m going to reinvent the whole idea. In my game, if you want to cheat, it’s going to cost you.
Kayla: How’s he doing that?
Isaac: It knows we cheated!
Kayla: [as Isaac shuts off the game] Isaac, no.
Beck: It’s going to hurt.
Isaac: [as he’s dying] I totally turned you on to Run-DMC.
Kayla: You’re so f***ing smart.
[Isaac takes his last breath and dies]
Hal: How did you find us?
Kayla: It sent me here.
Hal: Why would it do that?
Kayla: You tell me.
Kayla: You still playing?
Hal: Not exactly.
Hal: I collect things, you know. From when I was your age. You probably don’t know what they are. I mean, everything’s in the cloud for you kids. So I picked up the game in a clearance site. I thought it’d pass a couple of minutes. But I think I woke it up. And then, after two levels, it promised to leave us alone if I made copies.
Kayla: My friend is dead.
Hal: I really am devastated.
Kayla: F*** you!
Hal: If it sent you here, it can’t be for anything good.
Hal: [to Kayla] You know what I think? I think you might be what it was looking for.
Kayla: “Final level. Boss battle.”
Hal: It thinks I’m the final level boss, and you’re the hero? Oh, that’s not fair. Aren’t guys like me allowed to be the f***ing hero anymore? You know, in the ’80s…
Kayla: F*** the ’80s.
Hal: F*** the ’80s?!
Kayla: You want to be the hero? Prove yourself worthy.
Hal: I’m the f***ing hero!
Laura: [after Hal dies] You were never here.
Kayla: Thank you.
Laura: It’s the least I can do. You saved my life.
Kayla: Are you going to be okay?
Laura: We’ll survive.
Kayla: [after she wins the game] The more the one who’s cursed suffers, the more the one that’s proved themself worthy benefits. Recovers from sickness. Everything wrong in their life made right. One life sacrificed so another can be saved. Sometimes, the curse can be a gift.
Beck: [over phone] You’ve suffered. I’ve prospered. Yet somehow you managed to beat my game.
Beck: Tell me, who will suffer next?
Kayla: Only people who deserve it.