MPI // 2012 // 93 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Matt Dicker (Retired) // July 19th, 2013
Keep telling yourself it's just a game.
The makers of Would You Rather seem to have no idea what kind of movie they were trying to make: torture porn, social commentary, chamber mystery, or straight horror. No matter, for whatever they were going for, they failed utterly.
Desperate to earn money to care for her ill brother, Iris (Brittany Snow, Pitch Perfect) accepts an offer to attend a dinner at the home of the wealthy Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs, The Frighteners) where she and the other guests are promised the opportunity to win large sums of money by participating in a game. After being given one last chance to depart from the party, the attendees learn that the game they will play is Would You Rather, but instead of answering hypotheticals, each participant much choose to actually perform one of two acts. The game quickly degrades into a series of violent, dangerous, and altogether disgusting acts, as the players realize that only the winner will get out alive.
Shortly after the beginning of the titular game of Would You Rather, the characters realize they have made a terrible mistake and beg to be allowed to quit the game. This must have come naturally to the actors, who no doubt had second thoughts about their own participation in this embarrassment of a movie.
Would You Rather was marketed as a horror film in the vein of Saw, but it is better described as Ten Little Indians without the excitement, drama, and mystery. For a brief moment after the game began, I had hope that the film might offer some interesting ethical considerations and clever designs of torture. This moment was all too brief, however, as it became clear that the punishments would be no more clever than beating each other with a stick, forced underwater submersion, and, as seen in the film's poster, slitting one's own eyeball with a razor. Any ethical discussion was quickly discarded, robbing the film of its one chance at having some merit.
Lacking any true suspense or mystery -- it should surprise no one, even those lacking the necessary intellect to avoid this movie (myself included), which characters will be quickly dispensed of and which will fight it out for the final prize -- all that remains for the audience is the chance to be grossed out at each act of depravity engineered by Shepard. Perhaps these gross out moments would be more engaging at a midnight screening with an appreciative audience, but on Blu-ray it is clear that these acts range from stupid to ridiculous. Only the slitting of the eyeball -- just writing the phrase makes my eyelid twitch -- offers any real discomfort, but none offer any true scares, suspense, or surprise.
Two potential subplots are set up early in the film, with the possible actions of Shepard's son Julian (Robin Taylor, Another Earth) and Iris's brother's doctor (Lawrence Gilliard Jr, The Wire) causing breaks in the narrative that seem to be leading the plot in unexpected directions. Yet both characters are soon removed from the action of the film, rendering their existence completely meaningless.
The few supporters of Would You Rather that are out there (I was surprised to learn there are any) have described the film as a commentary on the divide between rich and poor and the degrading and dangerous things that the rich make the poor do for their own benefit. I suppose it's possible the film was intended as more than just torture porn, but it is executed in such a ham-fisted, absurd manner that any possible social commentary is rendered ludicrous.
The individuals responsible for the technical aspects of the Blu-ray put far more care into their work than the filmmakers did. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and 2.40:1/1080p HD presentation are clear and high quality. However, I would have preferred murky audio and poor video quality so I wouldn't have to experience this terrible with so much clarity.
Unlike other entries in the torture porn genre that are at least able to derive some semblance of horror from the disturbing acts depicted, Would You Rather is too lame to be scary and too absurd to be social commentary. This movie is so bad that one of the punishing options offered to the game's participants should have been "Watch Would You Rather."
Would You Rather is found guilty on all charges and sentenced to every
one of the acts shown in the film. The court also imposes an additional
punishment for failing to include the appropriate question mark in the title of
the film...such grammatical errors will not be tolerated in Judge Matt Dicker's
Review content copyright © 2013 Matt Dicker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated