Choose or Die is an extremely graphic horror film currently streaming on Netflix. It stars Lola Evans as a player who needs to choose between two brutal options, or die.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Hal (Eddie Marsan), a gaming fanatic, gets a hold of a game called CURS>R. It is a choice based game, but Hal is unaware that his choices will have real life consequences. Faced with the choice of “his tongue” or “her ears”, Hal chooses the former and watches his wife cut out his son’s tongue.
The focus then shifts to Kayla, an engineering drop out. Her mother, a victim of drug abuse, obsessively fears rats behind their living room wall. Her friend, Isaac, another video game geek, gets hold of another copy of the game. Tempted by the prize and the chance to help her mother, Kayla takes the game home and starts playing it at 2 am.
At Level 1, she sees a waitress eating glass. At Level 2, her mother gets chased by a giant rat. It confirms her fears regarding the game, and she seeks help from Isaac.
They spot weird symbols in the game’s code. Isaac assumes it is what that helps the game “interact with reality”. The command prompt, however, is missing. They cannot investigate further as Level 3 begins. Two doors appear, the blue door seems ominous because there is a whisper of “kill” from behind.
They take the red door and it leads them to the swimming pool where Kayla’s brother drowned. Here she is confronted with the choice of either saving her brother or Isaac. She avoids the game’s trick and saves Isaac.
Back to real life, Isaac figures out how the game uses sound as a code, he tracks the game’s prize money phone number to an abandoned warehouse. Things unfold in queer ways and lead to fatal consequences as Kayla gets closer to beating the game.
If you have any doubts about the ending, here’s a complete breakdown.
Choose or Die ending explained in detail:
How it works
The warehouse contains a tape that explains the game to Isaac and Kayla. A person called Beck explains how some people discovered a curse that has unusual properties and can affect reality. Those can be used against a person or multiple persons.
More the cursed suffer, more the curser benefits.
For the purpose of a simple choice-based horror game, the makers of the game converted the original symbols into 8-bit equivalents. Pain, fear, trauma, and sadistic pleasure are all ingrained into the gaming experience.
The test subject in the game was compelled to eat his arm, and as he hurts himself, a wound on Beck’s arm heals. This leads him to conclude, “Sometimes, a curse can be a gift.”
Kayla manages to spot a symbol in the video that could be the command prompt. However, before they can unlock the mysteries of the game, Level 4 begins.
It forces Kayla to choose between rewinding or fast forwarding Isaac. No matter what her choice is, Isaac would choke on cable and die.
She is utterly confused, and makes a technically non-consequent decision which leads to Isaac’s death.
After Isaac dies, Kayla is told by the game to beat the final boss as the hero of the game. She is given the coordinates to Hal’s house which was shown right at the beginning. When she arrives, it is clear that Hal had continued playing the game, consequences of which were borne by his family members. His wife and son have various covered up injuries.
At level 3, he could have stopped after making copies of the game, but Hal knows he had woken the game. In the fourth round, CURS>R pits Kayla and Hal against each other. This being the final round, would decide who becomes the next curser.
The controls were twisted as in if one was hurt, the other would suffer. Kayla is helped by Hal’s family members, who had dealt with enough pain inflicted by Hal’s choices. Kayla manages to survive by drowning herself in the pool. Hal chokes on water and dies.
Endings and beginnings
Hal’s death mark an end of suffering for his family and the end of the game. Kayla, the winner, receives the command prompt on her phone which means she can now control the curse in the same way Beck did.
Her first victim is Lance (Ryan Gage), a drug dealer who was a facilitator to her mother’s addiction.
She receives a call from an older Beck, now a successful CEO of the company Kayla works for. He acknowledges that Kayla had suffered and he had prospered. But since she is the new controller of the game, Beck asks who she wants to suffer .
Kayla suavely replies, “Only people who deserve it”, thus leaving scope for more death and suffering at the hands of CURS>R.