Stay Alive

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Stay Alive
Stay Alive poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by William Brent Bell
Produced by Peter Schlessel
James D. Stern
Matthew Peterman
Written by William Brent Bell
Matthew Peterman
Starring Jon Foster
Samaire Armstrong
Frankie Muniz
Jimmi Simpson
Milo Ventimiglia
Sophia Bush
Adam Goldberg
Music by John Frizzell
Cinematography Alejandro Martinez
Edited by Mark Stevens
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures (US)
Universal Pictures (UK)
Release dates
March 24, 2006
Running time
Theatrical cut
85 min.
Director's Cut
100 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9 million[1]
Box office $27.1 million[2]

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 and roommate's girlfriend slaughtered. He is then hanged with 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), both avid gamers. Hutch has received a bag of Loomis' possessions and gives Phineas a lighter, since he hates fire. Phin finds "Stay Alive" and urges all to play in honor of Loomis. Hutch is reluctant, but they decide to play as a group. Abigail and another friend, Swink (Frankie Muniz) join in, with Miller playing online from his office. The game is set in a derelict mansion on Garouge Plantation, but it won't open until the six players recite "The Prayer of Elizabeth." It's a creepy request for "all who resist" to perish so that their blood might keep her young. In a demonic voice the game warns that all will die. The players arm their characters and fight through a cemetery full of evil ghosts of children, heading toward a mausoleum and tower. Miller touches a rose and the game directs him to pick it. A student of the occult, October explains that undead spirits cannot move across wild roses. Miller goes down to the basement, but the door slams shut and separates the players. Upstairs, Abigail enters a secret passage in a wardrobe. In the room beyond, she locates Elizabeth's diary with the spooky prayer. Hutch notices that all the mirrors in the game are broken. Meanwhile, in the basement, Miller finds a torture room full of phantom girls. Scared, he throws down the rose which dispels the spirits. The rose also vanishes. Now the woman in red (the same one who hanged Loomis) can stab Miller's unprotected character. A "Game Over" message marks him for death. Minutes later, the woman in red appears in his office and kills Miller with conjoined scissor blades like the ones in the game.

Two detectives, Thibodeaux and King, question Hutch who knew all the homicide victims. Hutch realizes that "Stay Alive" connects the deaths of Miller and Loomis. They died the way their characters died in the game. Later, October researches Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the woman in red, a real-life murderess. Bathory would drain young women of blood, bathing in it to maintain her youth. She couldn't stand to look in a mirror and see herself growing old. Elsewhere, laughing at "a game that kills," Phineas decides to play on alone. Keeping in touch with the others by cellphone, he tells them his character has found an unbreakable silver metal mirror which repels Bathory. Escaping outside, he is attacked by a driverless black horse-drawn carriage. Before he can be run down, Phin pauses the game, so his character doesn't die. Reassured that he's safe, Phin drives to meet the others. A demonic ghost-child startles him off the road. When he gets out of the car, the same bizarre carriage runs him over and kills him. The survivors vow to stop playing "Stay Alive" until they can find out more about it. However, Detective King, a former gamer, ignores Swink's warning and plays until Bathory rips his character's head apart with a trap. Undaunted, King tries to find "Stay Alive" at a video store, but the clerk has never heard of it. Moments after he enters his car, King then gets killed the same way as his character did in the game. .

Swink and October stay at Hutch's, while the other two search Loomis' house. Hutch tells Abigail why he hates fire. When he was a young boy, his jealous father set their house on fire. Unable to move, he had to watch his mother burn alive. After his father went to prison, Hutch lived with Loomis' family and knows one window is always left unlocked. Inside, they locate Loomis' cellphone with the name of Jonathan Malkus (James Haven), the creator of "Stay Alive." Swink gets the corresponding address. As King's murder hits the news, the police arrive at Hutch's house. Escaping, October and Swink rejoin the other two at Loomis'.

October has discovered that the real Countess Bathory was walled up in the tower of her estate as punishment for her gruesome acts. She lived on for years and vowed to one day return and seek revenge. A resurrected Bathory haunted the school at Garouge Plantation, killing many girls and keeping a diary. She was walled up in the tower there. October reveals that the only way to kill the Countess is to drive three nails into her body to trap her evil soul. Then they must burn the body. Knowing how Hutch hates fire, October then goes outside alone to smoke. She sees the countess enter a half built house and follows her. Once inside, October tries shoot the countess three times with a nail gun but this proves to be ineffective due to her being transparent. She tries to flee but a chain wraps around her ankle and is hung upside down. Hutch and the others head over to the construction site to save her, only to arrive too late as October has her throat slashed by the countess, which leaves Hutch beyond devastated. Since nobody was playing the game, the survivors realize that, once begun, the game can play itself. The remaining three decide to search the house at Malkus' address. Staying in the van with the game on a laptop, Swink volunteers to play and distract Elizabeth Bathory, while Hutch and Abigail explore. They soon realize Malkus' house is actually on Garouge Plantation, Bathory's estate. Moreover, as he plays, Swink discovers he can manipulate items in the game to affect reality.

Swink leads Hutch through the cemetery towards the tower, while Abigail is drawn to the lighted closet and secret passage she'd found earlier in the game. In the hidden room, she finds the blades used by Bathory, who promptly attacks. As Abigail screams, Swink guides Hutch through the house to the closet and in the game throws roses at the Countess until Hutch arrives. The Countess begins to cheat and locks Swink out of the van and game, while her carriage rides towards his inactive character. Swink breaks a window and moves his character just in time. He re-enters the van, but Bathory comes to kill him in real life, 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 patch of rosebushes as the Countess exits her carriage, blades in hand. Hutch and Abigail return to the van to find the laptop screen marked "Game Over" and Swink's character dead.

Grabbing the laptop, Hutch and Abigail gather some of the wild roses. They then cross the cemetery to a mausoleum-type passageway leading to the tower. As a group of undead children pursue them, they drop numerous roses and make their way into Bathory's torture chamber. When Hutch starts up the staircase, a heavy door with a barred window slams shut, separating him from Abigail. She urges him to go after Bathory's body and perform the ritual of nails, while she stays trapped with one last rose. Hutch reluctantly leaves and Bathory's phantom attacks Abigail. Hutch climbs to the top of the tower and finds the completely preserved body of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. While Abigail fights to live, Hutch hammers three nails one by one into the inert body. When he finishes, the evil spirit stops attacking Abigail, then reanimates Bathory's body. Bathory rises, the nails slowly emerging and falling out of her. Retreating, Hutch knocks over an oil lamp, spilling oil across the floor. Recalling that the Countess hates mirrors, Hutch uses his reflective silver laptop to repel her. Overcoming the fear of fire, he sets the room ablaze. Just then Swink, still alive and carrying an armload of roses, bursts in with Abigail to rescue him. Countess Bathory's body burns, and the three who managed to stay alive walk away from the place.

Meanwhile, in the video store that King visited, the shelves are now full of just released "Stay Alive" games. Intrigued, the same employee puts a copy in the PlayStation 2. As the video comes onscreen, the unlucky group of six is heard reciting Elizabeth's prayer. A new game has begun, and the evil phantom of Countess Elizabeth Bathory gazes out her tower window awaiting new blood.


Box office[edit]

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.[2] The movie has grossed a total of over $27.1 million worldwide.[2]

Critical reaction[edit]

The theatrical version received negative critical reviews.Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 24 out of 100, based on 17 reviews.[3] 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."[4][5] 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."[6] Meanwhile, Variety concluded: "Seldom is there anything close to real passion or panic on display here from cast members."[7]

DVD release[edit]

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.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Stay Alive". The Numbers. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Stay Alive (2006). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
  3. ^ "Stay Alive Movie Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. 
  4. ^ "Film Review: Stay Alive". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ Anderson, John Anderson (March 26, 2006). "'Stay Alive': The videogame gorefest is a rather lethargic exercise in mayhem". Hartford Courant. 
  6. ^ "Film Review". Entertainment Weekly. March 29, 2006. 
  7. ^ Anderson, John (March 24, 2006). "Film Review". Variety. 

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