Video games are bad, ‘mkay?
Choose Or Die takes place in a slightly dystopian future that looks like the present, where our protagonist, Kayla (Iola Evans), ekes out a living cleaning clean offices every night, plus whatever she can scrounge by refurbishing obsolete technology.
During a visit with her friendly fence Isaac (Asa Butterfield), she discovers an old text-based video game from the 1980s called Curs>r that more than lives up to its name.
Isaac informs Kayla that there’s an unclaimed $100,000 prize that supposedly awaits the player worthy enough to win.
The bummer is that it’s a sentient game made with sorcerous runes that can take over reality, forcing the player to make impossible choices, usually having to decide which friend or family member gets maimed in grisly fashion.
Therein lies the tension in all its one-dimensional glory. Dig it, or don’t.
Choose Or Die gets a needed boost from actress Iola Evans, who invests Kayla with brains and bravery. Even with loved ones in constant peril, she keeps her focus while trying to hack the sinister system.
Writer-director Toby Meakins does an adequate job of creating a cold and confusing reality in which financially trapped citizens like Kayla engage in risky occult business in hopes of a prize that will rescue them from wretched poverty.
You know, like in The Hunger Games.
Though Kayla is a talented programmer, she can’t get her foot in the door anywhere, leaving her stuck with mindless labor as the only way to keep the drug-dealing landlord (Ryan Gage) from stringing out her junkie mom.
You should be entertained by the painful predicaments pondered in Choose Or Die, and you will definitely root for the plucky heroine. But it’s all pretty one-dimensional. Hopefully that’s enough.