Would you rather watch this movie or would you rather have your eye sliced open with a razor?
Have you seen the poster for the new thriller Would You Rather? On it is pictured an extreme close-up of a human eye with a thumb and forefinger holding a razor blade dangerously close. The thought of my eye being sliced open by anything makes me cringe. And I know someone (no names… Eric) who won’t see the movie because of the mere suggestion of its poster. The good news for the squeamish is that nothing in Would You Rather gets so graphic that you actually have to see it. But the bad news is that having an eye sliced open might not be the worst thing that happens to one of its characters.
Iris, played by Brittany Snow (the Prom Night remake), is a pretty young woman burdened by the failing health of her cancer-ridden brother. I don’t know what happened to their parents, but Iris is desperate to raise some funds to pay all the bills. She’s so desperate, in fact, that she becomes a participant in a mysterious dinner game, the winner of which will inherit a cash windfall that could take care of all her problems. Little does she know that the host for this game, Shepard Lambrick, played by genre favorite Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator), has gruesome intentions for the game’s players.
If you ever played the game “Would You Rather” when you were a kid, you may remember that it poses theoretical choices to its players, such as “Would you rather eat dirt or would you rather kiss Sally?” The game in this movie is like that, except these players must act on the decision they make. They’d have to actually eat dirt or kiss Sally, but in this case the choices are a little more severe, such as, “Would you rather give yourself an electric shock or give the player to your right an electric shock?” It’s the childhood game as if designed by the Jigsaw killer.
When you think about it, this game presents a fascinating opportunity to test the moral fortitude of its players. How far will they go to win the game? How badly do they need the money? Would they go so far as to kill someone for it?
I can picture the reviews now. I’m sure there are critics who will complain that, except for Iris, there is no character development. She’s the only one we know anything about. True, she’s certainly the only one provided a reason for needing the money. However, I don’t think this is a fault. Lambrick knows something about each of the players that the audience doesn’t and his game is designed to test all their weaknesses. When these weaknesses are revealed, there are true “A-ha” moments that are a lot of fun. For example, “A-ha! That guy is a recovering alcoholic. That’s why he was challenged to take a drink.”
The idea is great and Would You Rather poses some clever no-win choices for its players. But I’m not entirely certain director David Guy Levy and screenwriter Steffen Schlactenhaufen execute their concept in the most effective way possible. There’s something lacking that I can’t quite put my finger on, but the movie plays more like a low budget, straight-to-home video B-movie than a gory, big screen shocker. That may be simply because that’s exactly what it is. For that, I really liked it. I just wish it would have been more.