Writer: Steffen Schlachtenhaufen
Stars: Brittany Snow, Jeffery Combs, June Squibb
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Would You Rather is not just that game you played at co-ed high school parties while you were discovering puberty and your parents were away in the Dominican, it is also a 2012 horror film that will make you squirm the entire way through. Instead of making your partner feel pleasure, the individuals in this film are forced to do the exact opposite.
The crux of the film is simple really—what would you be willing to do to other people to gain something important for yourself. Essentially, what would you do to another person in order to get more pieces of paper that have fancy colors and numbers on them; something that actually has no real value at all, it’s just paper. It’s a take on humanity and the inherit evil we all have inside of us.
When the film opens, we meet Iris (Brittany Snow), a down on her luck woman trying desperately to get a job to help take care of her brother who is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. Soon, however, she gets a strange call from her brother’s doctor, who introduces her to Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs), an über-wealthy man who invites her to a dinner party, at the end of which she may walk out with all her problems solved. All she will have to do is play and win some kind of game, a game in which the contents are not fully exposed until it starts.
The majority of the movie takes place in one location, the dining room of a mansion belonging to the Lambrick Foundation. In this place, each attendee (there are eight in all) will have to make choices on what kind of pain and on whom they will inflict certain types of torture. For example, in one round of the game, each player must decide between stabbing another player in the leg with an ice pick or giving three blows to a certain player with a African whipping cane. The point is to whittle the contestants down to one survivor.
The terror here is really effective. While it approaches a Saw level of torture porn, the real effect stems not from seeing the violence but rather from the constant anticipation of what will come next. But of course there is plenty of gruesome stuff to be seen as well if that is your sort of thing. The film is a sort of salad bowl mix of Clue, Saw, and Die that has been properly tossed and drizzled with doom-sauce.
The acting was actually fairly solid all around. While Jeffrey Combs delivers a typically solid portrayal of a madman, the real star is Brittany Snow (She has done this genre many times) who makes it so you feel her inner struggle throughout. The script does a good job of giving her character enough credible back story to make this unlikely situation plausible, and she does the rest. The writers and director keep you guessing as to what her moral compass is until the very end when they throw you a loop.
And the rest of the cast delivers as well, without which, this whole movie could fall down. What made this film even better was seeing “Ricky” from Trailer Park Boys play a solid role in this film which boosted the movies stock price in my book. If anything, you should see this film for his performance alone because it is quite hilarious.
Would You Rather is not the kind of horror I enjoy the most; there is nothing fun about it. However, while watching it, I found that its harsh nature makes you ask questions about humanity in general and the desire for self-preservation and, even further, the desire for wealth and personal happiness. While it seems that all these players had a legitimate, somewhat less than selfish reason to play, the idea that people place the needs of their family over others at any expense is an interesting philosophical question that I do think the filmmakers here were playing with.
The big extreme weakness of this film is how ludicrous the logic is. Brittany Snow and her violent horror flicks (She has many). If you were to just think about the concept of this film, you’d start to see how stupid it really is. This is a game, which has clearly been played multiple times before, in which a lot of people are murdered, and there is one victor. How in the world are the people that run the show not caught by now? You’re telling me that none of these victims that have gone through insane turmoil, none of them, would talk to the police? Is it an extreme form of Stockholm syndrome?
The premise is just so ludicrous the only reason it’s there is to show off how many different ways you can make someone uncomfortable, and breakdown before doing the unthinkable. I guess the movie illustrates the other point that torture is not an effect choice for interrogation in regards to intelligence officers; because everyone has a breaking point and will do and say anything to make the pain stop.
So, the next time that you are searching Netflix, The Movie Network etc, look out for those movies that have to do with a special arranged dinners( i.e It’s a Disaster). For some reason or another, their plots are often completely ridiculous. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean the movie is bad, just unbelievable. In all fairness, though, a lot of these movies are going to be mediocre at best because they haven’t been well thought out. All they seemingly want to do is get as far-fetched as possible, which clearly indicates a specifically geared target audience. Halloween is right around the corner however, so bring on the horror and doom I say.