Due to the law of accelerating returns, technology is advancing at a rate which seems hard to keep up with. I feel like I’m still getting the hang of Facebook, something that I use daily, and I once heard a kid say that “Nobody uses Facebook anymore.” I’m that nobody. There’s always some new form of social media that attracts societies hummingbird attention, and in Markosia’s STAY ALIVE the newest online trend is to vote on who should be killed next on the darknet site uKill.
The way it works is like this: dislikable “celebrities” are voted for on the uKill website, and whoever wins that voting period gets hunted down by an elite assassination squad. This is, of course, massively illegal, unlike the similarly themed Running Man, so authorities really want to crack down on this thing. Predictably, they are powerless to stop this machine from cranking out bodies. Some of the people who get killed get simply shot in the head in public. Other, less fortunate “winners” of the vote end up as disarticulated meat-puppets, which is kinda fun to see.
In steps a sleazy television executive who wishes to exploit this new phenomenon. He enlists a down on her luck C-list film star, Jane Morgan, to intentionally piss off the public so they will vote for her. When she is voted most hated (the voting system seems problematic since a mildly unlikable starlet should be lower on the list than every pedophile ever) she is put into protective custody by the television studio, who turn her survival story into a reality TV show. Thus, STAY ALIVE is born.
Already a crazy set up, uKill cranks it up to eleven (they have a vested interest since they have been selling footage of the murders to dark web viewers, that classically naughty bunch) by releasing Jane’s obsessed stalker/one-time lover. He’s a total savant at homicide, by the way, introducing himself to the viewer by casually tearing the arms off of someone with his bare hands, like that’s a thing that actual people can do. It’s pretty convenient for uKill that a human woodchipper already has a murder-boner for Jane.
If you’re worried this is going to be all scathing commentary on our obsession with social media, the power that resides in the inherent anonymity of the internet and the dangers of rampant celebrity culture, don’t worry, that’s all tempered with a smattering of T & A. In fact, my main criticism of STAY ALIVE is that it wobbles back and forth between three different desires. On one hand, it wants to be a warning of mob mentality and technology coalescing into a perfect storm of passive, apathetic destruction. On another hand, it wants to showcase as many perfectly sculpted hourglass bodies as it can. On a third, severed hand, it wants to shoehorn in as much mindless bloodletting as is humanly possible. Due to not committing to one or two of these themes, it felt like all three felt a little underdeveloped.
My other complaint, and this is somewhat taste based, is that the gore seems to be both in your face and vague. No matter what happens to a victim, all we are ever treated to is a geyser of blood. No bone, no organs, nothing overly inventive. I’m actually hesitant to include this as an actual complaint, since this might just be me being jaded. If you’re a-ok with people being reduced to gore-geysers, you’re gonna love Baskerville’s art style.
If you hate modern technology and need to indulge your more carnal delights, boobs and blood abound in this satisfying horror comedy. STAY ALIVE is the ultimate in hyperbole in what the internet is capable of, especially in the hands of people without morals. Get your copy of it here.