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half dying

Stay Alive

Stay Alive is a 2006 horror film directed by William Brent Bell and written by William Brent Bell and Matthew Peterman. This film was produced by McG, co-produced by Hollywood Pictures and released on March 24, 2006 in the US. The film was rated PG-13 for horror violence, disturbing images, language, brief sexual and drug content.

Plot

A person in a video game is spotted entering an eerie mansion. He walks past a broken mirror, where an image of a dead girl appears in the mirror, foreshadowing an attack by an Undead. The character flees up the stairs, spies an undead girl in the hallway, and enters a room where two dead bodies, covered in blood, hang from the ceiling. Out of the gloom lunges a woman wearing a blood red dress. She knocks him off the staircase banister, and the character is killed when he is hanged by a chandelier chain. The player of the game (Stay Alive), Loomis Crowley (a cameo appearance by Milo Ventimiglia), asks his friend Hutch MacNeil (Jon Foster) to come over. When Hutch turns him down, Loomis goes to bed, but is later woken by a nightmare. As he returns from getting a glass of milk, he hears a strange vibrating noise, and a shadow approaches him. After finding his roommates dead, their bodies hung from the ceiling like the ones he saw in the game, the woman in the game appears and pushes him off the banister, and Loomis is killed by a chain wrapped around his neck before he has a chance to land, eerily similar to his character's death in the game.

Hutch is then seen in his office, where he is an intern at a business corporation. Hutch's boss and friend, Miller (Adam Goldberg), asks to see him, when really he only wants gaming advice on Silent Hill 4. After discussing the video game, the phone rings, and the call is for Hutch. The phone call informs Hutch that his close friend, Loomis, who Hutch was just talking to the night before, has died. At the funeral, Hutch is given all of Loomis' games and papers by Loomis’s younger sister, including "Stay Alive". The sight of the game disturbs Hutch, as it had been the game Loomis was playing hours before he died. At the funeral, a blonde girl about Hutch's age approaches him with an old-fashioned camera (the camera is a tribute to Fatal Frame, a horror survival game in which most of the video game portion of the film is based on). She takes a picture of him and identifies herself as Abby, a close friend to Loomis's roommate, Sarah, who was also killed the night Loomis died.

After the funeral, Hutch arrives at a video-game coffee shop owned and run by his closest goth friend October (Sophia Bush) and her dirty brother Phineus (Jimmi Simpson). Hutch hands October the bag containing Loomis' possessions, and October thumbs through a photo album and Phin finds an old lighter. The lighter triggers a trauma vision of the past for Hutch. These trauma visions are shown throughout the film. Phin eventually finds Stay Alive, when they decide to play that night.

October, Phin, and another friend Swink (Frankie Muniz) arrive at Hutch's house. Arriving with them is Abby (Samaire Armstrong), who Hutch invited at Loomis's funeral. To start the game, the players have to recite the "The Prayer of Elizabeth", the game intro. After a few hours of gaming, Miller, who had been attacked by a mob of undead children, finds his way into what appears to be a torture chamber. Suddenly, the woman who killed Loomis kills Miller's character by stabbing him in the throat, and Miller dies a few minutes later the same way, with the same dagger used to kill his character.

Hutch realizes Loomis and Miller died the same way they died in Stay Alive, and goes to a library to research the game, as well as track down the game's developer for answers on why he created a game that kills you if you die in it. Hutch begins to reveal his findings when October says she found some information about the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a sadistic murderess so evil that she was sealed in the very plantation she lived on. However, the Countess's disembodied spirit is killing those who play Stay Alive to fulfill her vow of returning and only way to kill her is by sealing her soul into her body, reanimating the Countess and burning her alive. While this occurred, Phin driving down a stretch of road on his way to meet up with his friends, when an apparition almost causes him to crash. After getting out of his car to investigate, the Countess's horse-drawn carriage runs him down, killing him before the others arrive to see him. October was grief-stricken by her brother's death and swore revenge against the Countess.

Officers, including some investigating Miller's death, arrive on the scene, and one decides to play Stay Alive, as he is curious about the game. Hutch tries to stop him, but fails to shut down the computer before the officer’s character dies. The officer is later seen at a video game store asking about the game he just played. When the clerk says he has no knowledge of the game, the officer returns to his car, and has his head ripped in half, dying the exact same way he had died in the game. Soon after evading the police, who suspects them for the previous murders, the gang regroups to see October's out trying to smoke a cigarette, October is trapped and killed by the Countess when she enters a house that is under construction near Loomis's residence. Realizing that the game is now playing itself, Hutch, Swink and Abigail drive to the developer's house, only to discover him dead, and that his house is the mansion from the game with the plantation behind it.

Not too long after arriving, Swink, who used the game to help Hutch save Abigail, is locked out of his van and the game unpauses. After breaking into the van and noticing things in the game are happening at the same time in real life, Swink takes off darting down the path to the plantation with the Countess's carriage not too far behind. He falls into a rose bush and struggles to get out only to notice the Countess getting out of the carriage. She pulls out a pair of rose cutters. It then goes back to the van on the TV with Swink's character lying dead on a rose bush.

After what appears to be Swink's death, Hutch and Abigail run through the plantation cemetery towards the tower. Hutch abruptly realizes the roses still work, even though they are not in the game. While in the tunnels, Hutch and Abigail look for the entrance to the tower.

Pursued by the Countess, Abigail is locked in the torture chamber, forcing Hutch to leave her as he tries to reach the tower. When he does, he finds the Countess's body, amazingly well-preserved. After reviving her into her body, Hutch uses his laptop to show the Countess her reflection and Hutch sets fire to the room. The door is locked, and he accepts the fact that he's going to be killed by fire, until Swink, who presumably "cheated" by faking his own death, and Abigail kick the door open and rescue him. The movie ends in the video game store, revealing that Stay Alive is now being officially released across the country. The last words are the incantation that resurrects the countess. It is implied that after the game is released, there will be a worldwide massacre of players.

Cast

Release

Box office

As of June 29, 2006, the film grossed a total of 23.08 million dollars in the United States. It was considered a box office success due to its production budget of only 9 million dollars. In the opening weekend, it already grossed more than its budget with 10.7 million dollars in the United States. The movie has grossed a total of over 27.1 million dollars worldwide.

Critical reaction

The theatrical version was given negative reviews by critics. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 24 out of 100, based on 17 reviews.

In the Los Angeles Times, John Anderson commented that "'Stay Alive' spends a lot of time inside the video game system, and what will terrify the audience very early on is the realization that there's better acting in the video game than on the big screen.

Meanwhile, Variety magazine concluded: "Seldom is there anything close to real passion or panic on display here from cast members.

DVD release

The DVD was released in the USA on September 19, 2006. It was made available in an unrated edition (100 minutes) and a PG-13 edition (85 minutes). The 15 minutes of new unrated footage include a new character and subplot. The unrated edition also features a little more violence, blood and gore, profanity, and drug use.

Trivia

  • The Countess is based on the actual Elizabeth Bathory, though slightly altered in a few ways.
  • This was the last film that completed its production in New Orleans, Louisiana before Hurricane Katrina hit.
  • Stay Alive was the first film from Hollywood Pictures in five years.
  • Cliff Bleszinski was the movie's video game information consultant. However, several video game references in the film are either incorrect or suspect such as the discussion early in the film about the final encounter in Silent Hill 4.
  • In the film, Swink tells Phin that to unclothe the zombie concubines the Konami Code is used.
  • There are two scenes that take place inside of a video game store. Both are filmed inside of GameStop, and the magazine shown in the end is Game Informer, which is published by GameStop Corp.
  • Milo Ventimiglia's character's name is a reference to Samuel J. Loomis and Victor Crowley

References

External links

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