It is a shame that the producers and creators of Stay Alive could not have obtained a script or historical adviser as well. The film has the decidedly out-there premise of the real-life Countess Bathory having been reincarnated inside a videogame. Countess Elizabeth Bathory was a Hungarian noblewoman who was arrested in the year 1610 for having killed some 600 young girls. Among other things, it was claimed that she used to kill young virgins and bathe in their blood in the belief that it would cause her to remain youthful. The Elizabeth Bathory story has been influential on the genesis of the vampire myth. Variations on the Countess Bathory story have appeared on film a number of times before in the likes of Countess Dracula (1971), Daughters of Darkness (1971), Immoral Tales (1974), Eternal (2004), Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron (2007) and Metamorphosis (2007), as well as the historical accounts of Bathory (2008) and The Countess (2009).
In Stay Alive however, Countess Bathory is merely a name that has just been appropriated as some generic evil. There is not even any mention of her blood-bathing habits. More importantly, there is no explanation as to what a 16-17th Century Hungarian noblewoman is doing reincarnated in a computer game. For that matter, one of the most gaping plot holes throughout is that we never even learn what the person or agency behind the Stay Alive computer game was. Although the most gaping hole in the film is it somehow rewriting Elizabeth Bathorys story from 17th Century Hungary to now make her a plantation owner in 19th Century New Orleans. If a film uses an historical character but blurs their history by 200 years and half a world, why not come up with an original fictional character as people in the audience (like this author) are going to notice these minor details that filmmakers are assuming that everybody else is too stupid to know about?
Such idiocy can be fairly much expected however when one sees the name of McG on the credits as a producer. McG, the director of the Charlies Angels films and Terminator Salvation (2009), makes empty-headed films that consist only of hiply affected style. For all the films having a credited game adviser, there is not anything novel or particularly interesting that Stay Alive does with the deadly computer game premise. The one idea it does have the outlandish one of Elizabeth Bathory inside a videogame it fails to do anything with. All the film comes out as is a variation of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) transferred inside a computer game where a malevolent force hunts a group of teens/twentysomethings who die in reality when they are killed inside the dream/virtual environment. Director William Brent Bell creates little in the way of atmosphere everything is generic, the few things that vaguely approximate scares seem to be appropriated from modern Japanese horror films with evil-looking girls and things crawling about with hair across their face. Most of the cast are anonymous teen faces although, Jimmi Simpson plays with a geeky enthusiasm and obnoxiousness that one wishes would have worn off on the other actors.
This was the second film of director William Brent Bell. Bell subsequently went onto the success of the Found Footage exorcism film The Devil Inside (2012), followed by the werewolf film Wer (2013) and The Boy (2016) about a sinister doll.
Full film available online here:-