This article contains spoilers for the Netflix film Choose or DieSurely by now, people know not to find an old and mysterious game and take a look at how it works; it’s probably going to be cursed. Choose Or Die, the 2022 horror thriller is directed by Toby Meakins and is his feature directorial debut. It is undoubtedly one to remember, with disturbing visuals that will most likely be stuck in our minds for a long time.
The film starts with a mother and teenage son arguing, while the father hides in his room full of old video games. He begins playing an old-school survival video game called CURS>R, and he soon finds that the game affects the surrounding environment; his lights go out when the game asks him if he wants to turn them on or off. Although, things take a nasty turn when the game asks him: “His tongue or her ear? Choose or die!” This is when viewers know that reality is cursed and things are going to get gruesomely interesting. When he leaves the room, he witnesses his wife holding a knife to his son’s mouth, which his tongue is missing from.
Soon after, we meet Kayla (Lola Evans), whose only real friend is tech-obsessed nerd Isaac (Sex Education’s Asa Butterfield). Kayla and Isaac discover a copy of CURS>R, which promises a huge cash reward (from the voice of Robert Englund, aka Freddy Krueger) to whomever gets through every horrifying level and completes it.
Though it seems to have been decades since the game was released, the phone line available to gamers who are curious about the big prize remains open, and Kayla is soon lured into a frightening world where the video game does not dissapoint with its impossible requests. It forces her to choose how to make others suffer, and she has little choice but to complete CURS>R, even if it means losing the ones closest to her or even her own life. But when the disturbingly gripping movie comes to an end, what does it mean? Here’s the ending explained; do you want to read on? Choose or die.
The Cursor and The Cursed
After Issac and Kayla watch a video of a man in a lab coat explaining that he discovered a curse related to symbols that affect reality (and reveals that he invented the game using the symbols when he was a child), Kayla is told by the computer that she must “beat the boss.” It sends her coordinates for where to go, which brings her to an isolated home in the woods. Hal, the character from the very first scene, as well as his wife and son, are all inside the house.
To conceal his injuries, the son, Gabe, is wearing strange magazine cutouts of a mouth and an eye – totally creepy. Hal is startled when the game sent Kayla to his house. After being forced to play two levels of the videogame (which explains why his son also has one eye missing), he claims that the game promised to leave him alone provided he made and distributed copies. Kayla’s phone buzzes to let her know she’s reached the “boss battle” stage of the game. By this point, viewers may be invested, but also confused on what is going to happen. But it only gets more shocking.
Before making her way to Hal’s house, the man in the video explains a part of the game that we are soon to see in action. When someone (a cursor) uses the symbols against someone else (the cursed), the cursor benefits from the cursed’s suffering (although, this isn’t quite how it is explained to work earlier in the film, but we can roll with it anyway). This is demonstrated later when Hal throws a plate at Kayla’s face and, much to her surprise, she doesn’t get injured; instead, it injures Hal.
So, the damage they do to themselves is actually inflicted onto the other person, so of course they both frantically try to hurt themselves, with some help from the wife and son too. Kayla eventually ends up winning the battle when she drowns herself in the pool, although she does have the viewers holding their breath too, and for a minute we do believe she is dead. Of course, the bad guy loses and Hal chokes on water and dies, and the CURS>R game lets us know it’s “Game Over.”
Who is the Cursor Now?
As Kayla cleverly defeated Hal, she gets a notification where the game now declares her the cursor and in control of CURS>R, essentially meaning she can now curse people. She begins by targeting the drug dealer who is harassing her mother, and when we witness his shocking fate, we also see that Kayla’s injuries heal. Kayla then receives a phone call from the game designer, asking her who will suffer at the hands of the game next, and she makes a badass (and somewhat ethical) move and replies “only people who deserve it.” With that said, we are left to believe that now Kayla will become the ultimate cursor, but this time, using the video game to haunt those “who deserve it,” pointing to a subtle but subversive sociopolitical message.
The ending of Choose Or Die does leave room for a sequel, with plenty of questions that need answering, the main one being, what will be Kayla’s next move? The storyline is clever, assisted by a brilliant cast, and the terrifying visuals add that horror edge that all horror fans love to see.
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