While they say imitation is the purest form of flattery, and something can be said about the legendary Halloween spawning the slasher genre alone with all of its copycats, some tales are worth telling again. Not in the sense that we just tell the same story again but for an American audience, but something similar with a twist. Like the story of what some people are willing to do to survive, the most famous example probably being the Saw franchise. You Die poses the simple question of what would you do to stay alive longer, even if it was only for another 24 hours?
At first glance, the app seems pretty harmless. It just uses your camera and has a countdown until “you die”. That is what Asia and her friends thought until they start to see scary looking people in the app but not in real life. Asia is now seeing those people in her day to day life, and strange writing is starting to appear on her that no one else can see. If it has gotten this bad and it has only been a few hours, what happens when the timer runs out?
If the plot sounds a bit familiar it is a basic enough idea that many films have used it but it is the most similar in The Ring wherein the main character has 7 days to break the curse. In true movie fashion, You Die has raised the stakes and our lead must find a way to break the curse in 24 hours or suffer a grisly fate. Where it rises above just being an imitation is in the actor’s performances and the presentation. For as silly as some of the dialogue can get in a killer app movie that actors treat everything happening with incredible conviction and sell the audience on the film’s concept. The acting combined with the cinematographer for the film using simply incredible shots, with everything from expansive wides to claustrophobic closeups, makes for an ominousness in every scene.
What was less interesting and more frustrating later in You Die was some plot twists it decides to do. Through the film, Asia refuses to ever download the app to someone else’s phone even if it will guarantee her another 24 hours of living, viewing it as a monstrous act to save yourself. Later she interacts with someone who suffers the same curse who just keeps passing it on to survive, offering a different perspective to Asia’s. It works thematically with the film but the reveal of the character is weak and could not feel more unearned, with it trying to be a surprise but instead falling flat.
You Die was a nice surprise when you consider how lazily this film could have been made. With great acting, fun cinematography, and some actually spooky scenes, the film rises about just being redux of an old concept. Next time you feel like you’re wasting away the hours in quarantine, imagine if there was a countdown on your life…