Fantasia Reviews

[Fantasia 2023] Stay Online Review

‘Stay Online’ comes at a redefining time for the found footage and POV filmmaking styles that previous films such as ‘Megan is Missing’ ‘Unfriended 1&2’, ‘Missing’ and ‘Searching’. ‘Stay Online’ asks us the question “How could we make an impactful film while showing the horrors of war through the soldiers and civilian’s eyes?”

Stay Online follows a young woman (Liza Zaitseva) volunteering in Kyiv after she receives one of the thousands of laptops donated by ordinary Ukrainians to support the war effort. After installing a sensitive military application, the woman receives a mysterious video call from a superhero-obsessed young boy.


Filmmaker Eva Strelnikova brings us a harrowing and exhilarating movie for the ages, that should be a breath of fresh air in this sub-genre of found footage and POV movies. The co-writer Anton Skrypets gives us a determined protagonist, with a breathtaking performance from future star Elizaveta Zaitseva, who is in front of a laptop for the whole runtime of the film.

This film takes place in the backdrop of the Russian and Ukraine war giving us a sense of urgency while we see our main character trying to unlock the laptop she has received. The opening sequence makes us curious about why she has that computer and why that specific computer is important. When she finally cracks the code to get in. She witnesses videos of who had the laptop previously, and his secret messages.

As the audience views these videos and pictures, we see that he may have been killed on the way to evacuating the country during the war. Once we’re aware of the severity of the situation. His son calls the computer and that’s when tensions begin to rise for everyone involved. After our protagonist contacts her brother and uncle who are soldiers in the war, she asks them if they can find out what happened to the parents. That’s when we were first introduced to what they call “The Grey Zone”.

That is the name of the place where soldiers on both sides are unwilling to go normally, but they tell her they will go and try to help locate the parents. While all this is going on the computer it’s terrifying and exciting as we root for them to find the sons parents and at the same are dreading the worst possible outcome for everyone.

The leads are fantastic in this frantic atmosphere created by the grit and gloom from the surrounding everyone around the country. While ‘Oppenheimer’ is currently playing in theaters, ‘Stay Online’ will also shock and stun audiences brave enough to stomach it.

Overall Grade: 5/5 Stars.

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