It was late at night when I got to view Stay Out Stay Alive (2019) after a day of work. Rain was falling outside in a steady stream of tears from heaven and forest fire prevention. Reality television often puts ‘black ants’ and ‘red ants’ together to make what they think is a program that people will watch. A few of the human race like to see people fail in getting what they want or think they should have. What if that failure was the death of someone you had known for years? The old story of receiving a box with a push button in the post with instructions to push it and someone dies that is bothering you in your life. Would you do it? Well, these are the questions raised by Stay Out Stay Alive (2019).
Hollywood did this years ago with the non-genre gold standard (No pun intended) for greed, murder and insanity in John Huston’s The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948) with Humphrey Bogart. Stay Out Stay Alive (2019) people don’t get the fun of not sleeping because they are afraid that the other person will run off with their ‘goods’. The themes of greed, rivalry, and survival which for those that may know was handled more adeptly in The Decent (2005). This still doesn’t stop this film from being screened at horror film festivals perhaps due to Barbara Crampton in a small role as a Ranger. Crampton played a similar role in Sacrifice (2020).
The film follows a group of young people on their own, starting out yet they all have some problems. The problem is not insanity, greed or being driven when comes out later in this case it’s debt and a secret pregnancy. These folk even have professional careers laid out for them.
Life is tough for some when there are only one hundred brands of beer to choose from instead of the advertised thousand or the arugula is not correctly fried. Yes, it was late at night watching this and my cynical machine got rolling when I viewed this. Back to the film, they all decide to go camping near some abandoned mines in hopes of sneaking in to find gold. Yes, sneaking into find gold with all their troubles, this is what they wanted to do. One of them becomes trapped in an old mine following a freak cave-in but chooses to remain pinned while the others mine gold from a seam near her which is the only viable option. The trouble starts when they discover why the mines were abandoned in the first place when the miners first struck gold all those years ago.
The script has odd almost woke tendencies in dialogue. The kind you view in some television advertising when all families now must be mixed even if they look ridiculously contrived. Lovely opportunity and of course it happens as Native stories are told, surrounding the abandoned mine. Horror is not all white of course but let’s do this the right way.
The acting is pretty much on par with on-screen people saying the lines yet not showing the truth. It builds itself as a character-driven story that as I mentioned before is populated by some caricatures. The personalities reflected all seem to be those pesky black and red ants I mentioned before setting up for a crushing climax. Stay Out stay Alive (2019) does have a limited budget however it does well with the haunting gold mine set in a valley that floods and a claustrophobic setting.
Cast wise you have blonde smiley Bridget (Brie Mattson), Reese (Brandon Wardle), Donna (Sage Mears), Amy (Christina July Kim) who claims to have a native background and Kyle (William Romano-Pugh) along with Barbara Crampton walking about in a Ranger hat.
This is not a gory film, yet it does make good use of the natural beauty of the landscape, the nightscapes and the rocks which sometimes captivate more than the people in this world.
If you approach it as a sending up or satire of a segment of today’s society then Stay Out Stay Alive (2019) works well. The film takes itself too seriously at points when the real story is people which there is not enough. The 2006 film Severance by Christopher Smith does this with the right amount of fun with office worker types and some effective violence. Watch Stay Out Stay Alive (2019) for nature, not nurture.