Iola Evans plays Kayla, a college student struggling with debt and a troubled mother on the brink of poverty. Her best friend is a programmer named Isaac (Asa Butterfield), who isn’t exactly romantic but clearly loves Kayla enough to create a character named after her in his new game. However, there is no time for a relationship after Kayla stumbles upon an old 80s game called «Curs>r», which was also once the best title of this movie. Curs>r is an old Infocom-style text game, one of those early PC games where players type in text to advance a story. «Raise the cup? Yes or no?» Something like that.
Kayla discovers that the game has a cash prize that was never claimed, which ties Pick or Die to a fun subculture of people looking for lost video games. However, this little another. It’s customizable based on what’s going on in the room with Kayla, and each level usually results in bloodshed and a screen that reads «Choose or Die» over and over. Let’s just say Kayla gets past the first level in the diner and ends up with the poor waitress eating broken glass. It’s not really Tetris.
Like Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare movies, Curs>r disrupts reality, often transporting Kayla to other places or endangering those around her. However, there is no real structure of terror here. Freddy was terrible because he could enter your dreams. It’s relative. We all have nightmares. «Choose or Die» all too often feels like he’s inventing himself along the way. It’s the difference between seeing a nightmare for yourself and hearing about someone else’s. A movie like Choose or Die must either go completely off the rails with its hallucinatory visuals to draw you in, or lay down some rules for audiences and protagonists to follow. Meakins and screenwriter Simon Allen can’t decide which leads to a film that lacks confidence and flair.