Choose is currently streaming on Shudder
Written by: Christopher Murray
Directed by: Marcus Graves
Cast: Katheryn Winnick, Kevin Pollak, Nicholas Tucci
With a gun to her head, a teenage girl is forced to decide which of her parents must die in order to save the rest of her family. This is our first glimpse into the demented psychosis of the film’s antagonist, a serial killer who forces impossible choices on his victims. This 2011 psychological thriller grabs the viewer immediately, but the creative premise is not enough to carry the film.
With the number of victims rising, the killer reaches out to fledgling journalism student, Fiona Wagner. She then becomes increasingly entangled in his sadistic web. All the while our killer remains one step ahead of her and her detective dad, Sheriff Tom Wagner (played by the prolific Kevin Pollak). A series of cryptic clues eventually leads the daddy-daughter duo to a therapist from a now-defunct youth clinic. The therapist, Dr. Pendleton, explains that a controversial methodology was used in an attempt to help the troubled teens– choice therapy. With the goal of diverting them from a path of institutionalism and criminality, Dr. Pendleton and his team presented the teens with difficult choices that challenged them to learn the consequences of their actions. As you may have already guessed, their star pupil has re-emerged and wants to spread the skewed science that broke him.
Choose borrows much from classic thrillers before it, and offers some original twists and scares. Ultimately, the movie feels disjointed and sloppily executed. It simply seems to try too hard to be innovative rather than relying on its inherent strengths. The connections that unite the characters quickly become convoluted, and it clogs the narrative instead of moving it forward. The movie’s ending leaves the viewer with more questions than answers, and not in a thought-provoking way. The climax feels thrown together and detracts from what is otherwise an average entry in the genre. With the harshest criticisms laid out, it is decidedly watchable. Given a “choice” between watching this flick or having someone carve out your eyeballs, I’d just ask for some popcorn.