Thursday, December 26, 2013

Film Review: Would You Rather

Copyright: IFC Films
Would You Rather is a horror/thriller built on a very simple premises. It involves a children’s game played by a group of people were only pain exists and every decision leads to it.

In the film, actor Jeffrey Combs, a TV veteran (in a Star Trek TV universe he played nine different characters) is the biggest pillar holding the story from crumbling. He plays Shepard Lambrick, head of a mysterious group that offers a young woman named Iris a chance to save her leukemia stricken brother.

His offer includes money, but also the influence that would help her brother to receive the necessary medical treatment. Everything she needs to do is to come to a dinner party, and along with other competitors, try to win first place in a game. Iris, broken by her failed attempts to find help and lacking any other ideas, hesitantly accepts.

Combs as the twisted millionaire Lambrick gives the right pace for this unusual and partly successful film. He leads the games which force players to decide between variations in several rounds of sadistic challenges. During the party, the eight contestants have to choose very quickly between the two alternatives, which include injury to the player that chooses and/or other players. Armed guards are present so no one can leave the game, and it’s played until only one competitor remains.

Lambrick is also significant because he explains each round, providing rules and ruling on irregularities - Combs plays his character so extravagantly and pretentiously that at times he may look like he’s joking, but it actually works fine within the plot. On several occasions, the movies reminded me of a more violent and less funny version of the film Clue.

Combs is also by far the most memorable member of the entire cast, even though Sasha Gray is also present (and still struggling with regular acting). Iris is played by Brittany Snow who most of the time seems lethargic and in some sorts of shallow stupor. When she gets the opportunity to show a greater range, she uses her talent very modestly.

Would You Rather can be labeled as a low budget cousin to the films from the Saw series, with its pseudo-horror scenes that explore the human reactions in the face of inevitable suffering and pain. But unlike those films, this movie takes place in a single room with elegant wooden furniture. Lambrick’s challenges do not include complex devices, but instead involve wooden sticks, razors and ice picks, which give the plot a bit more realistic and macabre tone. It’s also, however, worthy to mention that Would You Rather, just like the Saw films, has a weakly written and unstable scenario.

The intention of this film was to show a few gory scenes that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, while at the same time clinging to a greater level of visual style that than the ones seen in other films from the torture porn genre. With the exception of the amazing Combs, it delivers hardly anything else.

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