Review: Would You Rather

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Iris, desperate to find the means to pay for her sick brother’s mounting medical bills, agrees to attend what she thinks is a charity dinner. Iris believes she will be allowed the opportunity to participate in a contest that could absolve her of her brother’s costly medical expenses. Silly Iris. What she is really in store for is a deadly game of Would You Rather.

I am a big Jeffrey Combs fan, so I was curious when I heard that he was starring in a new flick that’s been garnering positive feedback from the festival circuit. The premise of an entire film based around a game of Would You Rather seemed enticing, but I had concerns regarding whether that premise would be able to carry an entire movie. My concerns were promptly alleviated.

David Guy Levy served as both producer and director, with this being only his second time directing a feature film, and he left me anxious to see what he will do next.

Would You Rather has one of the most eclectic casts I’ve seen in a horror film. The characters ranged from early-’20s to late-’70s. I was impressed with the performances. Independent horror films aren’t always known to feature believable performances, but I actually bought in to what I was seeing.  Brittany Snow is instantly likable as Iris. John Heard was enjoyable, as always. Jeffrey Combs does what he does best. He was completely convincing at being a charming sociopath. His smarminess is a pleasure to watch. His incredulity at people’s reluctance to electrocute a perfect stranger or slit open their own eye is comical. Sasha Grey really turned in a good performance as a volatile wild card as well. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since she’s a relative newcomer to mainstream filmmaking. But, she did not disappoint.

Unlike so many of its contemporaries, Would You Rather kept me intrigued from the get-go. The film is effectively paced. It starts by piquing our curiosities and really delivers in the second half of the film.

The score is simple, but effective. It’s haunting and serves to further amplify the ever bountiful moments of tension.

People will undoubtedly mention that Would You Rather bears certain resemblances to Saw. And there are some similarities on the surface. Mr. Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs) has some obvious similarities to Jigsaw, but the comparisons are superficial. Beneath the surface, the two men are nothing alike. What makes them tick differs as much as night does from day. Would You Rather is an intense pitch black comedy, with strong horror overtones. It’s definitely not a Saw impersonator.

The effects are practical and they are well done. But, what impressed me is that the creative team didn’t exploit the violent scenes and go for the ever-prevalent torture porn angle.  The effects were realistic, yet refined.

Would You Rather isn’t the first film to present a character study of how people might react if faced with equally unsavory outcomes, but it’s one of the best that I’ve seen recently.  It makes some strong points about the value or lack of value, as it may be, that we put on human life. 

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

The ending was not neat nor pleasant. It wasn’t the simple kind of ‘happy ending’ that we see in a lot of films, but it made a statement. The ending forces the viewer to reevaluate what they had thought of Iris’ character leading up to that point. This film will stick with you after you’re done watching it. I commend the filmmakers for ending the picture in a way that makes the audience think.

***END SPOILERS***

I thoroughly enjoyed it. That’s not to say that Would You Rather is a perfect film, but I had a great time with it.

Would You Rather will be available via VOD on February 8th and making its way to a limited theatrical release on February 15th. It’s definitely worth checking out. It’s a fun and thought provoking film. 


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Weekend: Dec. 20, 2018, Dec. 23, 2018

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