Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Would You Rather" Movie Review – Not How We Play

Runtime: 93 minutes
Release Date: October 14, 2012
Rating: NR
Director: David Guy Levy

After her parents die, Iris (Brittany Snow, "Prom Night") returns home to take care of her little brother, but she has a number of problems. The bills keep piling up, she can't find a job, and her little brother is sick and desperately needs medical help. She meets a man named Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs, "Re-Animator") who offers her a deal. His foundation runs a special dinner event with a game attached, and the winner gets all their dreams taken care of by the foundation.

Though Iris initially doesn't want to go, she changes her mind when she realizes how much her brother needs her help. Once she arrives at the event, she learns that there are a handful of other people competing for the same prize. Over dinner, Shepard offers them a few prizes. A recovering alcoholic wins $10,000 for drinking a bottle of scotch, and Iris, who is a vegetarian, wins $10,000 for eating a steak. As soon as dinner is over, Shepard announces that they must play a game of would you rather, only this game involves sick choices like electrocuting yourself or the person sitting next to you.

I read a short synopsis of "Would You Rather," and it was enough to let me know I wanted to see the film. Unfortunately, it took me over a week to actually find a copy once it came out. I almost didn't rent it, but I'm glad I did because this was a great little film. Combs can bring a creepiness to almost any role, and he somehow manages to be both creepy and helpful in this film. He's fully aware that what he's doing is wrong, but he also thinks that he's really helping them by offering to make their lives better.

The film introduces us to way too many characters though. There's a woman in a wheelchair, a veteran returning from overseas, a young woman who lost her child, plus the Crab Man from "My Name is Earl." Two of the characters, Lucas and Cal, form an instant connection to Iris, which feels unrealistic at times. It feels even more unrealistic when Travis, the former soldier, agrees to let them whip him multiple times to save Iris and others from getting stabbed. There really isn't any buildup to why they go to such lengths to save her, but she is the star of the film.

The other characters are a little more believable. When the old lady in the wheelchair doesn't want someone to stab her even though she can't feel her legs, it's a fun little moment. Amy is probably one of the least sympathetic characters in the film. She's the first to realize that only one of them will walk away from the game, but she comes across as incredibly bitchy and rude at times.

"Would You Rather" is definitely an interesting film. It sets things up, asking how far you would go for the chance to take care of all your hopes and dreams. Iris starts out as a woman willing to do anything to help her brother, but she then spirals out of control, caring about the people around her and wanting them to escape the hellish nightmare too. It has a number of gory moments and some scenes that left me wincing including a man forced to slice open his own eyeball. Some people might walk away comparing it to the "Saw" franchise, but I found that it offered a twist on that story.

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