Choose or Die (formerly CURS>R) is a horror thriller directed by Toby Meakins and released in 2022. Distributed by Netflix, Choose or Die stars Iola Evans, Asa Butterfield, and Eddie Marsan.

Kayla (Iola Evans) is a struggling student trying to better her life. Living in a struggling community with little familial support, Kayla makes her living as a cleaner while flipping old technology to collectors. When her friend, Isaac (Asa Butterfield), gives her a retro game to test, Kayla’s life changes forever.

Old Choose or Die
Original Title: Iola Evans as Kayla & Asa Butterfield as Isaac

What I Like

Choose or Die often has a muted color that reflects Kayla’s sleep-deprived state. The city feels dead and hopeless. A lack of extras hammers this point without the need of awkward dialogue. I am not certain if this was a creative choice, a budgeting necessity, or COVID practicality, but it traps the viewer with Kayla.

Kayla usually makes rational decisions despite the villainous game constantly exploiting her recent traumas. I would not particularly say she is clever or consistently rational, but her character avoids stupid decisions designed to call on her.


What I Dislike

The story drifts in a few directions that loosely tie to the plot. However, some of these elements required more attention and missed the mark. One plot point that comes to mind is the traumatic event that haunts Kayla quickly gets resolved for a film about overcoming these obstacles.

I prefer villainous games to have clever rules to subvert. Choose or Die does not deliver on this. In fairness, Choose or Die focuses on its character journey where the game acts more as an agent for her development.

Zeth M. Martinez

Final Thoughts

Choose or Die combines retro gaming nostalgia with horror. While not a haunting film, it lingers because of an effectively oppressive environment. Some plot points need more attention from the film. The retro game aesthetic and engaging story provides an uncommon experience. For enthusiasts, the game will hit the mark. For the rest of us, it is simply another option with some good quality.
2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

About the Author

Zeth received his M.A in English with a focus in Creative Writing at CSU, Chico. As a human writer, he published in the 9th volume of Multicultural Echoes, served on the editorial board of Watershed Review, and is a horror reviewer for Haunted MTL. All agree he is a real-life human and not an octopus in human skin. Fascinated by horror novels and their movie adaptations, Zeth channels his bone-riddled arms in their study. Games are also a tasty treat, but he only has the two human limbs to write. If you enjoy his writing, check out his website.

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