I watched Would You Rather knowing absolutely nothing about it other than the title. Once you hear it, it’s not hard to imagine exactly what the movie is going to be. “Would you rather stick this needle in your eye or chop off your own thumbs?!” “Oh noooooo, both of those options are terrible! Aaaaaaa!” Sounds intriguing enough right? Plus you got Jeffrey Combs as the star, so there’s some good stuff going on here. Well that was my thinking initially at least. Turns out there is actually very little good stuff going on here.
So I was indeed pretty bang on with what the overall plot is. Brittany Snow, who I mostly remember from the terrible, TERRIBLE, remake of Prom Night, is our protagonist. She needs money for her brother who is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant, so like any rational human being she accepts the offer of a rich stranger (who looks like Jeffrey Combs mind you) who happens to be sitting in her doctor’s office. He invites her over to play a game, and if she wins, he’ll give her the money consequence free.
Now you and I, we’re wise people so we know that if a Jeffrey Combs looking stranger wants to play a game, you get the fuck out of there immediately and do damn near anything else in order to get that money. Of course this girl is not like you and I so she agrees. That night she heads over to his house where she is introduced to a room full of people I immediately recognized. You got John Heard (Kevin McCallister’s Dad), Eddie Steeples (Crabman from My Name is Earl), Robb Wells (Ricky on Trailer Park Boys), and Sasha Grey (Buttman’s Stretch Class 2, amongst many others). Pointing out people I recognized was probably the most fun I had watching this movie.
So it doesn’t take long for Jeffrey Combs to show up and reveal that shit is way fucked. Sure enough these people are forced to partake in a game of would you rather, where they have to make decisions like whether to shock themselves or shock the person next to them, or whether they want to stab somebody or cane somebody else, etc. Nearly the entire movie takes place around this dinner table, giving it the feel of a stage play. It also gives it the feel of a very boring movie.
The core idea of the movie is pretty solid, but watching it play out is actually quite dull. Once the question of the round is presented, such as the aforementioned decision of whether to shock yourself or the person next to you, you then have to watch as each individual person makes that decision. It should be suspenseful but primarily it’s tedious. It doesn’t help that I rarely felt the actors were portraying the horror of the situation. It feels more as though they are being slightly inconvenienced. Grey’s character comes off as bored, though that could be acting ability and not the writing of the character.
There’s clearly some of that “we are the 1%” business going on here, with the rich fucking with the poor for their own amusement. There are a couple of moments where the rich folks throw out some guilt trips about how they are asking for hand-outs, etc. It’s not presented subtly at all and I’m not even sure it works entirely since the one example we see is the lead girl being offered the opportunity, not really asking for the money at all. These rich assholes are standing on some shaky moral ground here. “Hey you want 10 bucks?” “Sure ok.” “Fuck you no handouts!” Seems unfair.
Also did I miss the part where they explain how the hell this game is still a secret? I think I must have because if it were me, and I won the game, you can be damn sure I would be there out telling the story of how I acquired the money by playing a game that involved elderly crippled women getting electrocuted. It may sound far fetched, but once people take one look at Jeffrey Combs I think they would immediately think “Yeah this fucker looks like he would do that kind of thing”.
Speaking of Combs, he is definitely an actor who always gives his all and can usually make even the worst of movies bearable. He is definitely the best part here, clearly having a good time playing just a complete shit. Unfortunately it’s not enough to keep this movie from just being dull to sit through. The idea is there but the execution is not. No more words!