Poster

Any contrived live-or-die situation (especially a game-style scenario such as The Running Man) immediately captures my interest. Would You Rather is a fairly self-explanatory plot. You should know what you are getting: several characters will die and most are the direct result of someone’s choice.

This movie provides a Saw-level vibe that is mysterious and intensely dangerous.

If you don’t like this type of movie, then prepare to have this horrified expression.

Brittany Snow

Brittany Snow brings a warm presence to the screen as her character, Iris—caretaker for her sick brother and gravely desperate to do anything to help him. Lawrence Gilliard Jr. makes a cameo as Dr. Barden who treats Iris’ brother and also introduces her to an odd, off-putting rich guy that can offer Iris the help her brother needs. Wisely, she doesn’t really trust the offer (at first, anyways) to a dinner and game where she can compete to win the treatment for her brother. You should never trust D’Angelo Barksdale.

After initially disposes of the invite, Iris reluctantly decides the game is her only option.

The dinner and festivities take place at the luxurious palace of Evil McPrick—played by Jeffrey Combs. The character’s actual name is the slightly less ridiculous Shepard Lambrick. Drink in that mustache.

Jeffrey Combs

Immediately, Iris is introduced to Lambrick’s son, Julian—played exquisitely by Robin Lord Taylor. I would have hightailed it because Robin Lord Taylor gives me the heebie jeebies. Unfortunately, Iris is in too deep and has the proper motivation to move forward. There is no changing her mind.

The evening starts with an introductory dinner where you’re exposed to a cast of characters. Our contestants include Cal (played by Eddie Steeples, popularly known as Crabman from My Name Is Earl), alcoholic Conway (played by John Heard), war veteran Travis (played by Charlie Hofheimer), paralyzed old lady Linda (played by June Squibb from recent Oscar nominee Nebraska), gambling addict Peter (played by Robb Wells), Lucas (played by Enver Gjokaj), and Amy (played by former porn star Sasha Grey). Each character has their own motivations. Naturally, some are selfish and some are selfless.

The dinner provides a taste of what’s to come in the main course. Iris is offered $10,000 to break her vegetarian ways by eating meat, which she chokes down for the reward. Recovering alcoholic Conway is presented with a much darker decision: $10,000 to drink a glass of wine or $50,000 for a decanter of scotch. Although he loathes himself for taking a sip of what has nearly ruined his life, Conway takes the decanter and wallows in self-pity while taking belts of the scotch. We’re only just getting started.

Party

After explaining the rules of the “Would You Rather?” game, ol’ Shep Lambrick allows his guests one last chance to leave. Now or never, there’s no looking back. Predictably, none of the guests leave.

Somehow, these fucks don’t quite understand what danger is now clear and present.

A strange dinner game turns sinister in an instant. Let the games begin.

Would You Rather is a thrilling horror movie that features some sick and twisted turns as each person’s base instincts of survival are tested against their compassion for fellow human beings. The game keeps the story moving, but the movie slows its pace in the transition from the second into the third act. In a sense, this is an interesting scenario to imagine how you would react to the proceedings.

Game

Don’t get me wrong, Would You Rather does devolve into torture porn to an extent. However, there’s enough eccentricity and dark humor to avoid being overwhelmed by the violence. I can recommend this movie because the story provides enough support to transcend the guts and gore. It’s still not for everyone, but horror fans have to slog through seemingly endless piles of shit to discover a rare nugget to enjoy. With decent writing, solid acting, and life-threatening decisions, Would You Rather is a brutal, bloody gauntlet where even the winner of the game doesn’t feel like much of a success.

Give this streaming (on Netflix) addition to the horror genre a chance. I hope you wouldn’t make some of the same dumb decisions that put these characters in this position in the first place.

But at least there’s a certain sick, disturbing delight that can be taken into thinking about what you would or could endure in order to set yourself up for the rest of your life. What would you do?

Sad Face

3.5 out of 5 stars

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