There are many reasons to not add 2012’s Would You Rather? to your Netflix queue – it sort of looks like a Saw ripoff, but without the deliciously devious Jigsaw, and it stars Brittany Snow (I still haven’t recovered from that God-awful Prom Night remake). But us horror fans know that sometimes you have to take a chance on the unknown, and in this case, I was pleasantly surprised.
Snow plays Iris, an orphaned young woman who lives with her brother Raleigh who desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. He’s dying, their house is for sale, and the bills are piling up. Things look bleak until Iris gets an offer from a filthy rich family – come to a creepy mansion, play a game, and the winner will be taken care of for the rest of their lives. Little does she know, for the losers, the stakes are lethal.
There are eight game contestants in total. Kevin McCallister’s Dad (John Heard) plays a recovering alcoholic; Sasha Grey, the ex-porn star, plays a goth bitch trope; Enver Gjokaj (Dollhouse) plays Lucas and is as fantastic as always, and fans of the Trailer Park Boys can spot Robb Wells as Peter. Each of the players is there for a specific reason – their lives have bottomed out in some way. Let the games begin.
The group gets one chance to hit the road without penalty and after that, they are forced to play, sit, heel, roll over, and lay down at gun point. The game they play revolves around horrifying “Would you rather” questions. Would you rather electrocute yourself or the stranger to your left? Would you rather beat this guy with a whip or stab another person with an ice pick? They have mere seconds to decide or they are “eliminated” from the game. Jeffrey Combs plays the sadistic millionaire in charge and he’s the perfect maniacal jokester, channeling Vincent Price at times. Blood is spilled, people die, yada, yada, yada.
Though this may sound too Saw 12, the movie stands on its own enough. The games get more and more twisted as the bodies drop, leading to some squeamish, hard-to-watch scenes. Despite the game’s perverse tests of morality and humanity, the movie is far from perfect – it could have benefited from more back story about the other players, and I would rather have punched the writer in the face with brass knuckles than to have allowed that ending to be written, filmed and released (see what I did there?), but hey – horror, man.
The cast really sells this slightly-more-than-mediocre script and despite its flaws, I found its semi-originality to be a pretty solid mid-week watch. The film’s sadistic, torturous take on parlor-games-gone-wrong was a nice reminder that Halloween is sort of around the corner, and that it’s time to reorganize my Netflix queue.
Grade: BBrittany Snow, Enver Gjokaj, horror, Jeffrey Combs, John Heard, Robb Wells, Sasha Grey, Saw, Trailer Park Boys, Would You Rather?