Gamer Garbage

If you see 'Stay Alive,' hope that the audience provides better entertainment than the movie

Hey, kids! This week's lesson in maximum suckage comes to us from the good folks at Buena Vista Pictures. Looks like that Disney property isn't ready to jump on the old R-rated horror-movie bandwagon just yet, so they've trucked out this PG-13 waste of time called Stay Alive, a sad attempt to cash in on the game craze and get some of those horror-fan dollars while they're at it.

First off, it's pretty obvious watching this thing that it was originally intended as an R-rated movie, and somebody chickened out. Violent scenes are abruptly cut off, and one dude's F-bomb is actually silenced as he mouths the word (just like the Rolling Stones during the Super Bowl), among other bad editing decisions.

Second, none of this really matters, because the movie is a pile of junk with any rating.

A before-credits sequence is fairly promising as Loomis, a chronic gamer, sits at his computer playing a creepy game where bloody ghosts chase after him. In the game, he dies by hanging, and shortly thereafter, he dies by hanging in real life. Then the credits start, and so does the part of the movie that stinks to high heaven, that being just about every second of movie after the opening credits.

Before Loomis kicks the bucket, he calls his buddy Hutch (Jon Foster, good in The Door in the Floor ... not good here), who blew him off and must deal with the guilt at his bud's funeral. A family member passes off his bag of games ("He would want you to have them"), and Hutch discovers the disc for "Stay Alive," the game Loomis was playing on the night of his death.

As most devout gamers would do after a friend's funeral, Hutch takes part in a secret gaming party, where the illegal game is downloaded, and multiple people take a crack at it. Once-promising actor Adam Goldberg, utilizing a terrible Southern accent, gets killed in the game (I'm not giving up much here, because he also died in the promotional teaser) and subsequently dies an identical death in the real world. Hutch begins to suspect that something is afoul, a frustrating realization that Foster conveys with horribly bad acting.

A few other folks die deaths similar to the ones suffered in the game, and Hutch comes to the decision that, yes, the game definitely has something to do with friends dying untimely and highly stylized deaths. He's a suspect, because he's connected with everybody who is dying, and also because the detectives working the case are hackneyed clichés.

Hutch joins forces with ultra-gamer Malcolm in the Middle (Frankie Muniz, it may be time for you to have beers with Gary Coleman and Corey Feldman), cool goth-girl October (Sophia Bush) and some homeless girl he picked up at the Loomis funeral (Samaire Armstrong, or at least I think that was her under all that pancake makeup). Together, the three will combat the ghostly force within the game, stopping intermittently for make-out sessions and pie (just kidding about the pie).

The film tries to go deep on occasion, with unintentionally hilarious results. Hutch has a problem with fire, and he gets to battle that particular demon successfully in the film's finale. This left me relieved, for I was really worried about the guy. His Frankenstein complex ("Fire ... errr!") must've been making it really hard for him to fire up his bong during intense sessions of "Resident Evil 4."

Making the movie all the more entertaining at the screening I attended was a herd of screamy girls who let out a yelp every time a ghost appeared or Adam Goldberg smiled. (He's got really big teeth.) Even better, a baseball cap-wearing man-child did a "talk at the screen" commentary for the whole film, even during the credits.

As it turns out, the shit he was babbling contained more intellect than anything in the film.