A gun is pointed to your head and you’re asked a simple question; what would you prefer – to have your ear drums destroyed or have your fingers cut off? This is your decision. This is Choose.
Choose has an interesting concept and could have been the start of an exciting franchise, but poor writing forces this serial killer thriller into mediocrity and eventually drops it into the realms of sloppy ridiculousness. Although it is very well directed in places, Choose is a hugely flawed film sitting on a decent idea.
A psychopath is forcing people to make decisions – to choose one fate or another. The results are brutal and with no connection between the victims, local Sheriff Tom Wagner (Kevin Pollack) is left utterly baffled. His daughter Fiona (Katheryn Winnick) is also being stalked by someone taunting her about her mother’s suicide, and as the bodies mount up they realise there’s a link… and a link to a disturbing past.
First time director Marcus Graves proves he has a flare for imagery and direction, and Choose is beautifully shot at times. Oddly, it’s also poorly directed at times too, failing to have establishing shots and confusingly introducing new characters without any build up. Visually interesting but inconsistently paced.
With serial killer films we either need an elusive, rarely seen killer (Seven / Zodiac) or have one with a clear and dangerous personality (The Hitcher / Tony: London Serial Killer) which features a very strong central performance. Sadly Choose significantly lacks a decent antagonist.
Our antagonist is a confused contradiction. The police claim to have “never seen this level of expertise before” and that he’s a “perfectionist”, yet when we see him he is vastly undisciplined and very messy in his execution. His personality is contradictory – he seems aggressive and preachy, but is also incredibly childish.
Choose has touches of Saw, Seven, Hostel and a hundred “perfect serial killer” movies, but without a solid antagonist to fear or (depending on your view-point) idolise and empathise with, it is simply very dull.
Even the normally watchable Kevin Pollack appears withdrawn and depressed throughout. Our protagonist Fiona is a soulless, nothing entity who has less personality than the victims, which is only exacerbated by Katheryn Winnick’s lack-lustre performance. When she knees a pervert in the crotch and says “How’d you like them apples?” it is gratingly out of place. Sadly this kind of awkward scripting riddles the film, and seeps into every pore of the movie.
Choose’s failures are down to faltering writing from Brandon Camp and Mike Thompson, which is not a huge surprise coming from the co-writers of such mediocre classics as Dragonfly and Love Happens. The script is inconsistent, unsubtle and deeply lacking a sense of humour.
Those hoping for brutal gore will also be disappointed, as it seems the creators of Choose deliberately avoided being too gory. It will not greatly satisfy gore hounds but it also fails to satisfy fans of cerebral horror / serial killer films. It’s an awkward film that feels uncomfortably lacking a target audience.
It is frustrating when a great idea goes horribly to waste. The notion of a serial killer forcing people to choose from one fate or another is a genuinely great concept, but it’s utterly wasted in Choose. The entire film frustrates on a number of levels. Having previously declared Prom Night 2008 to have the worst police investigation ever, it’s been significantly beaten by the bumbling incompetence of Sheriff Wagner and his team of idiots. Even when his daughter tells him she’s been contacted by the killer, the sheriff – her Dad! – Literally does nothing. It is a baffling script, bafflingly made and is a horrendous waste of a decent idea.
Overall Choose is a mess. The blame can largely be placed on the writers, who fail to create a realistic script or a decent antagonist. It is not scary, edgy, smart or exciting, but it is not offensively bad either. Occasionally it is beautifully shot, but ultimately this is an incredibly flawed piece of work.