Reviewed by Mike Ferraro: It’s doubtful that there is a person out there who hasn’t fantasized about winning the lottery or stumbling upon a large sum of money at some point in their life. Just getting that fresh chance to pay down all debts and start fresh – wherever you want – is certainly a pleasing sounding dream. Only, rarely is it something that comes true.
Would You Rather, a title with a questioning proposition without a questioning mark, begins with a somewhat familiar premise. Iris (Brittany Snow) is a woman desperate to take on any job she can find in an effort to help her sick brother Raleigh (Logan Miller). His outlook is bleak and there is no hope in sight for his survival. During a visit to one of Raleigh’s doctors, she is introduced to Shepard Lambrick (the immortal Jeffrey Combs), a strange rich guy who offers her a strange invitation.
He invites her to a dinner party that could be the key to both Raleigh’s survival and their financial freedom. Desperate, she reluctantly agrees, and attends the party almost without question. Upon arrival, she is introduced to an eclectic group of gamblers, war vets, and degenerates all there to make a quick buck. The guests are soon instructed to relinquish their keys and cell phones before the actual party begins (which obviously raises a red flag or two to some of the guests). As they all sit down at the table, each a tad hesitant, the party host starts the show.
As dinner starts being served, Iris immediately makes mention that is a vegetarian. Here is where the game begins – Lambrick offers her $10,000 in exchange for eating a steak and liver. The next offer goes to Conway, a recovering alcoholic, to drink a simple glass of wine for the same amount he offers Iris. After a refusal, he ups the ante to $50,000, to which Conway, after a brief internal struggle, pounds away.
This is how the game begins, with a few small simple tasks, then leading into more sinister options and outcomes. You know the rules – someone asks you a question. Would you rather do this or would you rather do that? But with this game, you have 15 seconds to choose, and the answer you choose is the thing on which you have to act. If you refuse, you lose.
Written by Steffen Schlachtenhaufen and directed by David Guy Levy, Would You Rather is a sadistic joyride for fans of the all but dead torture porn, or even those with a taste for the darkest of dark comedies. If this synopsis alone has you intrigued, the film will not disappoint. It includes a bevy of experienced character actors – from John Heard (Big, Home Alone), Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (Gangs of New York, The Walking Dead), to ex-porn queen Sasha Grey (The Girlfriend Experience).
The standout performance amongst them all, and perhaps the one that keeps the film going, is that of Combs (Reanimator). He plays the menacing host with a devious conviction that few others could dare capture. Grey however, despite the fact that she genuinely seems to be trying her best to move from her adult film career into that of mainstream posterity, doesn’t seem to be maturing her craft for the better.
Though the film delves into some familiar waters, it’s suspenseful enough to keep you glued and stimulating to keep you guessing what decisions the guests will decide. It is an evil game but if the rules are to be taken as truths, there are no limits to just how deep certain characters will go to claim victory.
The blu-ray plays host a poster gallery, a trailer for the film, and a commentary track with the writer and director. The track is rather dry, considering it is in fact the person who wrote and the person who directed. At times, silence fills the airways as it would seem they often get caught up viewing the film instead of talking about it.