Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Movie Club Week 13
It's middle of the week and time for another chat about vampire movies. I've been tossing back and forth in my mind, um-ing and huh-ing over which should be this week's pick, and decided to go with Stay Alive.
We open with a shot of a video game, and then see the guy playing the game. We learn he's a game tester, and even this unreleased horror game has his nerves shook. He phones his best friend trying to claim down, then walks into his roommates' room, catching them having sex, before commenting that he found their characters in the video game killed. They reply that they haven't played in hours and that there must be a glitch in the game as they did not die in the game. He then goes to the kitchen, and we are shown similarities to the scene he just played in the game. Heading back to the roommates, to find them brutally murdered, and He then dies in the exact way his character in the video game did.
We then see his best friend Hutch at his funeral, and is given a bag of his things by his family members, just before a strange woman walks up to Hutch and takes his photo. She informs him that she knew one of the roommates. Hutch invites her over to play a group video game with some of his friends as a tribute to their dead friend.
The group gather for the all night video marathon, with Hutch's boss joining them from the office online. They learn it's a vampire horror game, based on the story of Countess Bathroy, and that it's a voice activated game. Each member of the group has to read out loud a poem to activate their character.
His boss is the first to die in the game and as he is getting ready to leave the office, he starts to hear someone running through the floor. He gets spooked when a door he's just locked, unlocks by itself and a mirror breaks. Before he has a chance to scream, he's stabbed by someone that is never seen.
When the rest of the group find out about the murder the next day, they start to investigate, once Hutch realizes that so far all four of their friends were killed after playing the game, just like their character in the video game. At first they tell the police they think it's a copycat killer who is stalking and tracking people who play the game. But when another of the group is run over by a horse and carriage in the middle of the day on a road, while his character in the video game is on pause, they start to look to the supernatural.
One of the police detectives starts to play the game, but his character is killed within minutes. Thinking nothing of it, he starts to ask about the game at a local video store. As he leaves the parking lot, he is murdered alone in his truck the same way the character in the game was.
Soon, Hutch is the prime suspect and the whole gang start to go on the run. Another member is killed, as Hutch decides to visit the game's designer. From there he learns that the designer based everything in the game on a book he read about Elizabeth Bathory, and tells him to visit the author of the book. Hutch does and soon learns that what the group did was unknowingly preform a seance when they read the poem at the beginning of the game, casting a spell to awaken the spirit of Bathroy. The remaining three of the group then head back to the house of the designer for answers, only to realize they are on the burial ground of Bathroy, who was imprisoned in the wall of the house. They have to find her body and use coffin nails to connect her astral self with her corpse then burn her. They find the video game designer dead, and realize she killed him.
The three manage to destroy the vampire. But they forgot about the game itself. We see the same video store owner opening a fresh shipment of the game and put it into the machine, and hear the poem being read by the group over the store's pa system.
I love this movie. It's different, but still manages to bring in so many elements of folklore. The fact that roses and rose bushes (because of the thorns) are considered a weapon in many folklore, to battle vampires is rarely thought of, but this film uses it to it's advantage.
Also, the idea that vampirism was considered simply the act of astral projection, has fallen by the wayside in so many stories. Here, it is a main concern.
The subtleties of using similar images between the game and the "real" is done to perfection, making you need to rewind at times to make sure you caught the clues in the movie. Just little hints of something out of the corner of your eye, or an overlay of sound.
I also love the idea that video games are a form of vampirism in themselves. When you get into a game, you loose so much time to it, so much of your energy. The fact too that the film is filled with the sound of a game controller vibrating whenever something is about to happen, sort of hints that nothing is what it seems.