I had pretty low expectations for this movie going in. After all, it’s about a video game that when you die playing, you die in real life. But while it has echos of The Ring to it (we don’t know where they got the game, after you use it you die, etc.), it’s not a copycat film. In fact, I was kind of surprised by how much I liked the movie.
It starts out pretty much how you would expect. We’re introduced to the game, a couple of gamers, and the first set of deaths. The game itself is pretty creepy…little dead girls chasing you around an abandoned plantation and the connecting cemetary. They look kind of like those dolls you can find at Hot Topic or Newbury Comics – Living Dead Dolls. After our group of gamers gets the game when their friend dies, they assume he was beta testing it for a game company. The thrill of playing a game that isn’t even out yet outweighs the creepiness of playing the game that their friend was playing just hours before he died, and they play. By “they play,” I mean they set up a huge elaborate gaming station in their living room and play as a big group.
Then the next person dies…exactly as he died in the game. They investigate into the first friend’s death and realize he died the same way he died in the game too. They’re on the fence about whether this is a hugely creepy coincidence or really some video game ghost killing them one by one. Until the next person dies….then they believe it.
While the story has weak points and leaves lots of questions open, the overall effect is pretty interesting. It kept me entertained, it kept me on the edge of my seat, and only after did I begin to question some of the plot points and story weaknesses.
Yes, it’s kind of hard to believe whole-heartedly in a movie where people are being killed because they died in a video game, but at least the characters are having a hard time believing it as well. Whereas in The Ring the lead character falls into the whole story and believes it immediately. And she’s a reporter! These gamers who are used to living in the game and living for the game are doubting their whole reality when the game starts playing them.
Cliche? Yes. Unbelievable? Yes. But not every movie has to be plausible to be enjoyable. I enjoyed the game graphics and the attention to detail when it came to real life vs. the game. I also enjoyed the actors. Sophia Bush plays a really good semi-goth chick. And Jon Foster was decent as leading man Hutch. Frankie Muniz easily falls into the role of super-smart obsessed gamer Swink.
As much as I liked it, I don’t know if I should recommend it to a broad audience. Fellow MovieSnob Mike thought it could have been done a lot better – more gore, more violence, etc. I wish they had explained more of the plot points they glossed over, and I wish it hadn’t been left kind of open at the end. But in today’s box office world, you always have to leave room for a sequel.
Final suggestion: if you’ve got a spare ten bucks and aren’t looking for the next Crash or Good Night, and Good Luck, then check it out. If you’re cheap and your boyfriend spends more time with his XBox than he does with you, skip it.
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