Watching a bunch of people sit around, butchering each other and being tortured for 90 minutes under the thinnest of plots is hardly a choice I would willingly make. Therefore, I suppose it’s only fitting the horror wannabe WOULD YOU RATHER opted to force me into it, making me sit down to take in some pretty awful trash, with only the notion that, at the end, I could walk away, sit down in front of my Mac, and pump out a few paragraphs, letting you know how truly terrible it was keeping me going through this dreck. There’s a part of me that wonders whether director David Guy Levy had conceived his dreadful film as a sort of social experiment, putting together a horrendous film on purpose, and then sitting back and watching as people made the choice to keep going through to the end credits even against their better judgment, which fits into his story’s structure of living with the choices we make, even where there seems to be no good one... but that would indicate that there was some level of intelligence that went into the conception of WOULD YOU RATHER, and, if you suffered through this cinematic debacle, you’d know there’s no degree of smarts on display here at all... just increasing amounts of stupidity.
Brittany Snow is at the heart of WOULD YOU RATHER, a former college student forced to leave school in order to take care of her sick brother who is in need of a bone marrow transplant or he’s going to die. Presented as a way to cut costs, her brother’s doctor introduces her to the wealthy and obnoxiously irritating Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs, who looks like the love child of John Cleese and Burt Reynolds). Under the guise of representing a humanitarian foundation that helps those in need, Lambrick invites Brittany to a special dinner held to create opportunities for regular people such as herself. At this event, some sort of game will be held among the guests with the winner being taken care of entirely, meaning plenty of cash in hand, bills paid, donor lists skipped, etc. With the medical costs stacking up quickly, and Brittany’s Iris having not gotten the one waitressing job she applied for in order to help alleviate some of their debt, she opts to take Lambrick up on her offer, hoping the offer is so good that it might actually be true, and their troubles will be eliminated with the quickness.
Right from this start, WOULD YOU RATHER sucks the drama out of the story, by clearly depicting Lambrick as a despicable man with ulterior motives. It doesn’t even try to hide that there is something bad awaiting anyone who may be invited to this particular dinner... it’s just a matter of what the reveal of the game is going to wind up being, and, if you know the title of the movie going in, then even that gets wiped away. I had an incredibly hard time believing that Snow would make such a leap though from not landing one waitressing job - Do they not have any other restaurants where she lives? - to appear at a strange man’s house in the hopes that he’ll start cutting checks to complete and total strangers himself. You’d think she might have even tried to become a stripper (not that there’s anything wrong with that - some of those exotic dancers are making an honest living) to show how far this once promising girl has fallen in sacrificing for the health of her brother... but then again, that would indicate that someone was actually thinking about the movie they were making, and thinking about making it good... so there’s no way we could get any type of character building as such... not when we’re in such a rush to get to the brutality.
Upon arrival at a lavish house, Brittany learns that she is one of eight attendees, all hoping to be helped by the Lambrick Foundation in one way or another. However, it isn’t anywhere near as wholesome as those on top finding it in their hearts to be charitable to those on the bottom. Instead, a sick game of “Would You Rather” is introduced that pits each guest against each other, giving them a choice between two bad options that will injure, harm, maim or damage themselves or their neighbors at the dinner table. The game is designed to put a price on their morals to see who is willing to do what is necessary in order to be the last man or woman standing, but it winds up being a redundant series of actions that offer no variety whatsoever. At least when Jigsaw had his unwilling participants playing his game, he offered up some new traps in order to rescue the SAW movies from boredom. Levy has no such creativity - designing this game of “Would You Rather” as a series of rounds that has its players doing the same things over and over, just passing the turn around the table... and when you have eight people involved, things can get repetitive quickly. How many times do I need to see people getting shocked with electricity in a row? The movie’s answer - eight. How many times do I need to see someone either beaten or stabbed? You guessed it... eight. As people start dropping, unable to “compete” any further, the tortures go a little faster, but still... there’s no variety until we get to the end.
WOULD YOU RATHER might have played a little differently had it had the sense to inject a little bit of fun into its premise, but it takes itself so damn seriously, outside of Combs’ annoyingly over-the-top performance which isn’t the right tone for the movie to take either. The acting is all over the place, ranging between Snow’s trying too hard, John Heard’s trying to get paid, Sasha Grey’s trying to get more commercial work and others who appear as if they were snagged off Craiglist for little pay and instructed to act scared, which they can’t even do well, as there is no level of fear or terror conveyed in any one of them. There’s an idiotic subplot about that doctor from the beginning having his own moral dilemma and trying to save the day, but it’s so tacked on and meaningless, that when he does appear on-screen in an obvious filler to even get the movie to 90 minutes, you’re left to groan at the impossible choice of either having to watch him get involved, or go back into that dining room to watch more of the same. And then there’s the ending, which was clearly conceived with the mindset that WOULD YOU RATHER would end on a clever twist... only the results it winds up generating are a palm to the face and the wonder of what you could have possibly done to deserve witnessing this garbage.
Would I rather A.) watch WOULD YOU RATHER again or B.)...? B it is... I’ll take option B... whatever option B is, because watching the film once was torturous as it is. Choosing seconds would clearly be using poor judgment, as there’s very little room for whatever else is on the table to be much worse.
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