Written by: Christopher O’Neill on January 17th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: UK, October 30th, 2010 (FrightFest Halloween All-Nighter)
Director: Marcus Graves (aka Robert Legato)
Writer: Brandon Camp and Mike Thompson
Cast: Katheryn Winnick, Kevin Pollack, Richard Short, Bruce Dern, Nicholas Tucci
DVD released: January 17th, 2011
Approximate running time: 83 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35.1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: G2 Pictures
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99
Late at night in a quiet suburban household a teenage girl awakens to discover an intruder has bound and bagged her parents to their bed. Holding a gun, the masked figure tells her “I’m going to kill your mother or your father. You have sixty seconds to decide which one” and an hour-glass (filled with human blood) starts counting down that fatal minute. Not only does the teenager need to decide which parent is to die, but she has to commit the murder herself. It is the first of a spate of crimes where victims are forced to make a drastic, life-changing decision at gunpoint – “Choices have ramifications” they are told. Initially, journalism student Fiona Wagner becomes involved in the case through professional interest but is soon drawn in on a personal level when she starts receiving messages from someone claiming to be the killer. Despite protests from her father, who is the sheriff investigating the case, Fiona tries to find the connection between the victims in hope of ultimately discovering his identity. But as the mystery begins to unravel the young journalist learns that she may have a closer bond to the killer than she could ever have imagined.
This derivative imitation of the Saw franchise begins promisingly with a barnstorming sequence featuring a teenage girl who is forced to choose which of her parents is to die in order to save the rest of her family. A stylishly ghoulish credit sequence follows which depicts the killer, takes blood from himself to inject into the above mentioned hour-glass. With its lush visuals, committed performances and effective music score, it is clear there is dedicated talent on both sides of the camera and Choose seems to be shaping up to be a solid addition to the ‘torture porn’ cycle. Unfortunately, these qualities are soon undermined by the serviceable but ploddingly unimaginative screenplay by Mike Thompson and Brandon Camp (Dragonfly). The subsequent attacks fail to capture the perversity of the first such scene while the investigation aspect of the story goes from plot-point to plot-point in a mechanical manner.
It is worth noting that Choose, despite the dog-eared screenplay, is made watchable for the most part due to the excellent cast, particularly Katheryn Winnick (Amusement) whose multilayered central performance gives the film a much-needed credible lead character. Feisty yet vulnerable and more resourceful than many horror heroines, Winnick fleshes out and bolsters her role as Fiona with credence even when the script begins to slacken. She is also given solid support from Kevin Pollack (Otis) as her weary father, a sinisterly sleazy turn by a barely recognisable Lenny von Dohlen (Electric Dreams) and a memorable cameo appearance from Bruce Dern (Silent Running) who, even in his 70s, exhibits that off-kilter charm he brought to his earlier screen roles.
But the cast can only do so much with the lukewarm material and the familiarity of so many other pictures becomes draining and inevitably leads to tiresome predictability. By the time the contrived reasoning behind the killer’s actions (and his connection to Fiona) is revealed, it is difficult to care let alone empathise to the situation that the characters find themselves in, leading to an unsatisfactory finale. The credit of ‘Marcus Graves’ is a pseudonym for debut director Robert Legato, a visual effects artist whose recent credits include Avatar and Shutter Island. Apparently there was producer interference (resulting in the ending being changed) and Legato removed his name out of dissatisfaction with the final result.
Choose is presented at its correct 2:35:1 cinemascope dimensions. Unsurprising for a 2010 title that was shot on digital, the image quality is pristine without a blemish. The richly-textured cinematography by David Darby, which is often shrouded in shadow during interior scenes with a colour scheme favouring red, orange and yellow, is adequately vibrant with strong black tones.
The audio presentation is likewise faultless which compliments the effective score by Nathan Larson, a composer best known for his work on American indie pictures such as Boys Don’t Cry, Storytelling and The Woodsman.
There is no extra content, with the exception of trailers for other G2 releases Chain Letter and The Assassin Next Door which immediately play one after the other when the disc initially begins to play. These trailers are not accessible from the main menu.
The BBFC rating rating of Choose is ’15’ not ’18’ as most of the online retailers incorrectly state.