Whatever you call it, it’s a Saw retread but not nearly as sharp. Saw, for all its flaws — the annoying green-blue hues, the wallowing in degradation — presented interesting ethical dilemmas (How far would you go in the interest of self- and familial preservation?) and examined, in gross-out fashion, human examples of the psychology of learned helplessness.
Jigsaw masterminded a deadly game for his victims to play out, in a kind of Trolley Problem* thought experiment come to life (minus the saving others rather than just yourself bit that made that one so interesting for ethicists to study).
Saw is a polarizing film to be sure, but there’s no denying its influence in jump-starting its own sub-genre.
In 24 Hours to Die, the twist is that, rather than a detail-oriented, practically omniscient killer offing everyone, there’s a virus.
As IMDb describes it: “12 strangers are held against their will as each of them must go along with the rules if they are to get the cure for a killer virus which infects them all.”
It’s a concrete bunker, and each of the victims’ wake up times are staggered, so that they occasionally turn on one another for lack of any other reasonable explanation as to how they got there. The captives are put through a series of tasks in order to procure a cure, with the added benefit of a countdown clock to make sure things zip along with some semblance of suspense.
We’ve reviewed a few “how the hell did I end up here?” movies on this site, the superior Open Grave and Awaken spring to mind, and it’s rich territory to mine, a nice way to disorient a viewer as the plot unspools.
In 24 Hours to Die / Captive, there’s no investment in any of the protagonists, as they’re backstory-less, save for a brief explanation of their occupations, as they try and determine a reason they’ve all been subjected to this scenario. This is followed by a lot of yelling at one another, and a bunch of “why are you doing this to me?” and “I just wanna see my family!” cliches.
*1/2 (out of 5)
*In the Trolley Problem, there’s a runaway train and you’re beside a lever. If you:
a) Do nothing, the trolley kills five people on the main track (passively) allowing carnage to occur.
b) Pull the lever, you divert the trolley onto the side track, (actively) killing one person.