Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||William Brent Bell|
|Produced by||Peter Schlessel
James D. Stern
|Written by||William Brent Bell
|Music by||John Frizzell|
|Edited by||Mark Stevens|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|March 24, 2006|
Stay Alive is a 2006 horror film directed by William Brent Bell, who cowrote it with Matthew Peterman. It was produced by McG, co-produced by Hollywood Pictures and released on March 24, 2006 in the US. In the U.S. the film was rated PG-13 for horror violence, disturbing images, language, and brief sexual and drug content. This was the first film in five years released by Hollywood Pictures.
The film opens with a character in a video game entering an eerie mansion. He is stalked throughout the mansion by a woman in a red dress, who kills him by hanging him with a chain. The player of the game, Loomis Crowley (Milo Ventimiglia) is playing a game called Stay Alive. Loomis later wakes up to find his roommate slaughtered. He is then hung by a chain and killed, the same way he died in the game.
The next day at work, while talking with his boss and friend, Miller (Adam Goldberg), Hutch (Jon Foster) learns that Loomis is dead. At the funeral, he meets a girl named Abigail (Samaire Armstrong). Hutch goes to an internet cafe owned by his girlfriend, October (Sophia Bush), and her brother, Phineas (Jimmi Simpson). Phineas finds Stay Alive in Loomis's bag of possessions, which Hutch was given. They decide to play as a group that night. Another friend, Swink (Frankie Muniz) joins in, with Miller playing online from his office. To start the game, the players recite "The Prayer of Elizabeth", during the game’s intro. After a few hours, October realizes that spirits in the game cannot cross wild roses and Miller’s character is stabbed by the same woman who had killed Loomis. Miller later dies the same way as his character.
Hutch is questioned on Miller's death by two detectives, Thibodeaux and King. He notices later that the woman in red hates mirrors, and realizes the connections between the deaths of Miller and Loomis and their characters. October reveals all she knows about Elizabeth Bathory, the woman from the game. Bathory would drain young women of blood, bathing in it to maintain her youth, and could not stand to look in a mirror as she hated to see herself grow old. Phineas is later run down by a bizarre horse-drawn carriage. The group vows to stop playing the game until they can find out more about the game. Detective King decides to play Stay Alive but dies after his character is killed. The police come searching for the group at Hutch's house after word of King's death hits the news. They decide to hide out at Loomis' house and Hutch and Abigail find the address of Stay Alive’s developer, Jonathan Malkus (James Haven), through Loomis' cellphone.
They learn that Bathory was walled up in the tower on her plantation as punishment for her gruesome acts, vowing to one day return and seek revenge on all men, women, and children. October informs Hutch that the only way to kill The Countess is by burning her body after first trapping her soul in her body by driving three nails into her. The group formulates a plan and decide to stop Elizabeth Bathory. October is killed by the Countess in a construction building and the group realizes the game continues to play, whether logged on or not. They soon arrive at Bathory's mansion and Swink decides to play the game as a distraction for Bathory while the others explore the mansion. Hutch, Abigail, and Swink discover that Malkus's house is actually the Bathory plantation.
Swink leads Hutch to the cemetery though the game, while Abigail explores a lighted closet they found in the game earlier. Abigail finds the blades used by Bathory and is soon attacked. Swink guides Hutch through the house to the lighted closet and saves Abigail by throwing roses at the Countess through the game, just as Hutch arrives. The Countess begins to cheat and locks Swink out of their van, as her carriage rides towards his idle character. Swink is able to move his character out of the carriage's path through an open window. He regains access into the van and discovers Bathory is commencing to kill him, even though his character is still alive. Swink ditches the van and runs across a field, with Bathory's carriage close behind. He falls into a bush of roses as the Countess exits her carriage, blades in hand. Hutch and Abigail return to the van to find Swink's character dead.
Hutch and Abigail then cross the centenary to a mausoleum-type passage way leading to the tower. They are chased by a group of undead children and drop various roses as they find their way into Bathory's torture chamber. Abigail is separated from Hutch and is trapped with the Countess while he reaches the top of the tower and finds The Countess' body completely preserved. The Countess prepares to kill Abigail as Hutch is inserting the three nails in the body. When complete, the spirit attempting to kill Abigail vanishes. Bathory's body then rises as the nails fall from her. Hutch recalls how the Countess hated mirrors and uses his reflecting laptop to expose herself. He then sets the room on fire as Abigail and Swink, who is revealed to be alive and carrying a bush of roses, rescues him. Hutch, Abigail and Swink leave as Elizabeth's body burns.
In a video game store, it is shown that Stay Alive is being released. An employee takes a copy, puts it in the PlayStation 2, and as the game begins, the group reciting Elizabeth's prayer is heard.
- Jon Foster as Hutch MacNeil
- Frankie Muniz as Swink Sylvania
- Samaire Armstrong as Abigail
- Jimmi Simpson as Phineus Bantum
- Sophia Bush as October Bantum
- Wendell Pierce as Detective Thibodeaux
- Milo Ventimiglia as Loomis Crowley
- Adam Goldberg as Miller Banks
- Alice Krige as the Author
- Maria Kalinina as Elizabeth Bathory
- James Haven (only in the Unrated Director's Cut) as Jonathan Malkus and the Maker of the game
- Zero Zicky as Zorran
- Billy Slaughter as Rex
- Nicole Oppermann as Sarah
As of June 29, 2006, the film opened at #3 in the U.S. box office, eclipsing its production budget with $11.7 million that first weekend. It ultimately grossed a total of $23.08 million in the United States. The movie has grossed a total of over $27.1 million worldwide.
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. Rotten Tomatoes holds this film with a 9% "rotten" rating.
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." Gregory Kirschling of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a D- and commented, "this dopey movie keeps flouting its own rules, so that one character who dies in the game gets to live, while poor suckers get offed for real even though we never saw their Game Overs." Meanwhile, Variety concluded: "Seldom is there anything close to real passion or panic on display here from cast members."
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. Like Miramax Films, the unrated edition features more adult material. As of December 2011, 874,827 DVD units have been sold, bringing in $13,636,869 in revenue.
- List of ghost films
- Elizabeth Bathory
- Eternal, another film inspired by the "Blood Countess"
- Survival horror
- "Stay Alive". The Numbers. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
- Stay Alive (2006). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
- "Stay Alive Movie Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic.
- "Film Review: Stay Alive". Los Angeles Times.
- "Film Review". Entertainment Weekly. March 29, 2006.
- Anderson, John (March 24, 2006). "Film Review". Variety.
- John Anderson, "'Stay Alive': The videogame gorefest is a rather lethargic exercise in mayhem," Hartford Courant (March 26, 2006).
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