When thinking of Disney movies, you think of princesses, musicals, and magic. Even their Halloween movies feature musical numbers, and a sense of happiness overcomes you by the time credits roll. Disney even dresses up their parks for Halloween and still make it the happiest place on Earth.
In comes 2006’s horror movie, Stay Alive. Disney’s only slasher film. (not counting any from Dimension Films before 2005, those inherited from the 20th Century Fox catalog). Directed by William Brent Bell (The Boy, The Devil Inside), who co-wrote it with Matthew Peterman (The Devil Inside, Wer). It produced by McG (Supernatural, Chuck), and released on March 24th, 2006 in the US.
Capitalizing on the rising trend of video games, Stay Alive is a movie about a group of “gamers” that get their hands on a game that comes with a catch. If you die in the game, you die in real life. You can figure out it is a survival game where our cast has to beat the game before the game beats them. What I found interesting about this is the way you die in the game mirrors how you will die in real life.
It sets the game in a derelict mansion on Gerouge Plantation. It only starts when the six players recite “The Prayer of Elizabeth.” A request for “all who resist” to perish so that their blood can keep the Countess Elizabeth Bathory young. This Countess is the ghost who haunts the game and is based on an actual person. They say Bathory killed at least six hundred victims, making her one of the most prolific serial killers. Her actions resulted in a nickname of the “Blood Countess” and may have been a source of inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Yet, it’s possible Bathory was not guilty of all the crimes that have been laid at her feet.
Without getting into too many spoilers of the movie, the premise of it is great, but the execution of it leaves a lot to be desired. The build-up is entertaining, but by the end, it feels as if the writer and director were throwing whatever they felt would look good, not realizing they disproved their own rules of the game. The movie ends with copies of these games being shipped to stores leading to an opening for a sequel, but it never happened.
I am not saying it is an awful movie, saying that I can see why it was the only attempt as an R-rated slasher from the house of mouse. It is not as if Disney is hurting; they know what works and are sticking to it. This is less of a horror movie and more of a movie to watch with friends and enjoy the ride.