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Crime, Drama, Horror
The 7th Floor, IFC Entertainment
March 23rd, 2011
Release length: 1:23:00
With the recent surge of teen flicks hitting the movie theaters lately, it’s almost impossible to ignore the ripple effects franchises like Scream had back in the nineties when it came to the sleek and stylish Horror and Thriller genre that pretty much laid the groundwork for what we see today. Once in a while, you also come across a movie that entirely missed the boat. Choose is definitely one of those films that would have been successful back in the late nineties, instead trying to make some kind of mark in the early twenty-tens. Choose is helmed by New York based production company The 7th Floor, picked up by IFC Entertainment for distribution, and marks the directorial debut of Marcus Graves as well. But does this movie stand the test of time, or is it best thrown back in the water?

Choose is about a man who makes his victims decide their fate. The film starts with him forcing a young girl to pick who in her family dies, or else they will all do, twistin it by having her kill the person she chooses. Sadly this is one of the few scenes with this premise that actually end up tense in any way before introducing a main character, Fiona Wagner (Katheryn Winnick), daughter of Sheriff Tom Wagner (Kevin Pollak), who is a college student studying to become a journalist. The killer takes her on a mild ride that ties to her mother’s suicide, all the while continuing to make people choose their fate. One victim, a pianist, is forced to choose between his hearing or his fingers, and a spoiled model who is forced to choose her vision or her beauty.

If this sort of premise sounds familiar, it is. The film itself will feel like I Know What You Did Last Summer laced with Saw, especially when scenes like the killer communicating through instant messenger to taunt Fiona along or leaving clues such as library books for her to find and keep her playing his game. Sadly, the killer himself is the polar opposite of intimidating, and a few victims feel like they had it coming, or could have stopped him. Dr. Ronald Pendleton (Bruce Dern) leaves you on edge more, as does the child in the video tapes the doctor gives Fiona and Sheriff Tom Wagner, as well as the creepy man Fiona comes into contact while investigating the murderer who is credited as “Scar Lip” (Nicholas Tucci).

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Towards the end of the film, things start to come together, and its revealed how Fiona and the killer are linked, as well as why he is doing this, but not before the choice philosophy seems to go out the window for common revenge. At one point Sheriff Tom Wagner is kidnapped after another cop is shot in the head in front of a slew of other officers on scene. There was no silencer, so the fact that no cop heard the shot and reacted instinctively makes it simply unbelievable and forced to reach the conclusion. And then there’s the final confrontation where he just flat out kills another link to his past, never giving anyone a choice of how they die.

That said, Choose‘s story is actually not that bad, its just generic. The film itself looks sleek and stylish, the cast is largely sexy or hunky college students, especially our lead Fiona who is your typical busty blonde bombshell that feels like the Barbie-doll version of Neve Campbell’s character Sidney from the Scream franchise. There’s the creepy character factor as well, much like Dr. Loomis from the Halloween films, and a slow paced reveal that often fights tauntin and intimidating through digital means. The only major change to the formula is that the adults are actually not incompetent. Instead they seem to be just one step behind Fiona who basically makes the entire police department worthless with her laptop and some of her friends.

Choose

Choose clearly tries to channel the glitzy mid-nineties to early two thousands era of mainstream Horror and Slasher films, and it succeeds. There is no denying the visuals in this film are top notch, and some of the settings, as well as gore such as when in the Scar Lip’s den, are actually impressive. There are some volume issues with the audio, some levels being too quiet and others incredibly loud, and some of the lighting fails the killer at times, such as when he attacks the model, basically revealing the killer’s face really early on. But the worst is at the end when Scar Face is hitting someone repeatedly, and the sound of the bat coming into contact with the skin happens a second after it clearly hits the body. Other than that, Marcus Graves does a spectacular job directing the film, the crew clearly did an excellent job, and most of the cast do the best they can. It’s just sad that some key characters didn’t come through believable enough, and that the script just felt tired and overused at this point.

Choose isn’t a thought provoking film, nor is it too unique, or even all that memorable. It’s just a standard Horror Thriller that you can turn your brain off and enjoy the ride for what it is. Had a little more gone into the script like a couple more twists and turns, or additional tension building scenes, this could have been something more than a slightly changed formula we’ve come to expect in the wake of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Overall, it’s far from a bad experience, and makes for a safe bet if you’re looking for something to just sit back and unwind to for ninety minutes. Sadly, since it also offers absolutely nothing to make you want to come back other than to figure out the ending (in case you don’t get it, it’s the killer’s father), it’s a better rental or Netflix stream than a purchase.

Overall Score: 5.5/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by personal funds.