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Published: Saturday, 3/25/2006

Movie review: Stay Alive (bomb)

BY CHRISTOPHER BORRELLI
BLADE STAFF WRITER

"Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no! This cannot be happening!"

"What is it? What is it?"

"It's well, it's my brother. He's he he was he's he "

"What? He was what? Say it!"

"Someone ran over my brother in a big horse-drawn carriage!"

Not someone, doofus.

Some thing hit your brother.

Among the mysteries in Stay Alive, the new horror flick that opened yesterday (but didn't screen early for critics, out of courtesy I imagine), is the question of who is maintaining the 19th-century horse-drawn carriage that runs down the young man? Who greases its wheels and feeds its horses? Personally, I didn't think the point mattered much, but the movie brought it up, so here we are: Near the end of the picture, the Last Two Standing, a guy and a gal (Samaire Armstrong, the wafer-thin secretary from Entourage), duck into a decaying Southern plantation and see the carriage tucked off in the garage.

You think, hmmmm, really?

I wish we got that movie periodically, the one where the ghost attempts to carefully park their ghost carriage - but dang it if the werewolf didn't leave his circular saw right in the middle of the garage! These are the things you think about when you see a horror flick as devoid of tension or scares - or even the requisite scenes of gore and torture - as Stay Alive. You don't think, Oh, that guy is Frankie Muniz of Malcolm in the Middle. You think, Oh, Frankie Muniz is dead, killed by the ghost, but why aren't they showing the mutilated body of Frankie Muniz? Is Frankie Muniz the only actor with a real agent?

Also, you think:

Does everyone in this movie look pale and stoned, or is it me? Or is it the lightning, which makes everyone look, in turns, washed out and sweaty or seasick and exhausted? Hey, that's New Orleans. Before the hurricane or after? Probably after, but hard to say. The picture is physically putrid - yet plenty of trees are standing. And OK, now everyone is playing a video game and the women take it as seriously as the guys and no one is complaining about the size of the controller. They must be stoned. Frankie Muniz is talking about "perceptive reality." He means, I think, maybe they only think the video game is trying to murder them.

"If no one is playing the game," Frankie says, "and the game is still playing then this game MUST BE PLAYING ITSELF!"

Whoa, dude.

Yeah, definitely stoned.

Oh, did I mention the movie is about a killer video game that kills when you play it but you play it anyway because you're in a movie where you are too dumb not to play it even though it is killing everyone who plays it?

Whoops.

Forgot, what with the plantations and horse-drawn carriages and everything. The ghost here lives in a large, spooky estate but works through an Xbox.

Turns out, movie monsters are in crisis. That's what I got out of Stay Alive. All the good monsters are in the Oscar films now, like Lord of the Rings, too expensive to be used for a good scare and nothing else. At one time they lumbered after you. So we ran faster. They picked up a hatchet. We learned to fight back. They started haunting videotapes. We switched to DVDs. Now the savvier ghosts infiltrate video games. Hopefully that sticks. My cell bill is huge enough as it is.

Contact Christopher Borrelli at: cborrelli@theblade.com

or 419-724-6117.



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