A fascinating concept is buried under atrocious acting and dialogue (lots of telling not showing and then telling some more: “I need to visit my sister, she’s a psychologist too-” WHO CARES), a back-and-forth-spotlight narrative on the beach that’s chopped up like a middle school stage play, camerawork that somehow depletes the suspense and horror instead of adding to it, and an over-explained ending that mars any thematic poignancy that came before (see the “what were we fighting about” scene).
Four teenagers are sucked into a magical video game, and the only way they can escape is to work together to finish the game. (IMDb)
The in-video game premise is clever and fun (see the NPCs) but the stakes feel low, despite the limited lives and creepy (crawly) baddie, and the emotional arc is pretty weak too. More importantly though, the adventure-action is good, and the comedy is great (even if it slows down the pace a little too much at points); the four leads excel in their high-school personality roles and bring lots of laughs (Black as the stereotypical popular girl is a highlight, but they all have their moments).
A truly torturous twisting of unbearable family drama and bone-chilling horror, with the strength of the former (great performances all around) providing a deep sense of dread to be accented by the terrifying visuals of the latter. Starts to unravel a bit in the final act, but it’s no less riveting thanks to the continued strong cinematography and sound(track). Superbly directed (I don’t think I’ve ever been more on edge or left more horrified then I was with that pivotal accident scene).