David Guy Levy (Terri) directed this film, written by Steffen Schlachtenhaufen (Primal). A horror-thriller about a millionaire who invites a group of people to take part in a game in order to win a large monetary prize.
I was drawn into this film by its well established cast, people I enjoy watching from film and television. Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect), Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator), John Heard (Big), Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (The Walking Dead), Eddie Steeples (My Name is Earl), June Squibb (Nebraska) and Robin Lord Taylor (Gotham) being among them. A cast that work well together as they each have to choose between certain actions, battling their conscience and morality along the way. The performances, especially from Snow and Combs, are enjoyable and while not the best I’ve seen from them, they still kept me entertained for the running time of the movie.
The film follows the main protagonist, Iris (Snow), who is in debt left by the passing of her parents, and her brother has leukaemia and is in dire need of a bone-marrow transplant which she cannot even begin to pay for. She is approached by a rich man named Shepard Lambrick (Combs) who offers her a chance to win enough money to pay for her brother’s care, clear her debts, and even promises, if she were to win, that he would help her get the transplant for her brother quickly. She agrees after thinking it over, and is driven to the house where the game is to take place. There, she meets the other guests, or players. Lucas (Enver Gjokaj), Amy (Sasha Grey), Conway (Heard), Travis (Charlie Hofheimer), Cal (Steeples), Linda (Squibb) and Peter (Robb Wells) who are all there for various reasons, in need of the money on offer. They are welcomed by the head of security, of sorts, Bevans (Jonny Coyne), who shows them to a dining room and they sit around a large table. Beginning with a dinner, which Lambrick and his son, Julian (Taylor) attend, with Bevans and another security guard around them, the games begin as Lambrick offers tame “would you rather” options to a couple of guests, but then things begin to take a turn, with the real truth of the “game” being revealed, and the true meaning of being “eliminated” revealed as being killed. With the “would you rather” concept taking sinister turns, such as options to either stab or whip fellow players, or electrocute yourself of the person opposite, the players begin to question their morality and what they are willing to do to survive, and possibly even win.
It’s a cool concept, and one I enjoyed watching being explored. It’s fairly simplistic, taking a familiar game that usually results in kisses and hugs, and turning it into a horrific game held by sociopaths with lots and lots of money at their disposal. The way the “rounds” escalated was interesting, though I would have preferred to have seen a little more creativity put into it sometimes. The cast all did their job of creating suspense and giving insight into what might lurk inside them as people, with what they are, and aren’t, willing to do. Combs, as the millionaire with perversions of horrific degrees, is a blast here, reeling off dialogue with charming creepiness and schizophrenic turns of mood. His son, Julian, played by Taylor, reminded me of Joffrey from Game of Thrones at times, a blonde and sociopathic kid who has been given everything he’s ever wanted, hiding behind the guns and fists that his father pays for. He is so easy to dislike, and it makes for an interesting moment or two, wondering if he will get his smug grin knocked from his face. Snow is also easy to root for as the lead character, a girl who has been put into an insane situation yet cannot help but think about her brother and his illness. I don’t want to spoil things, so I’ll refrain for complaining about certain aspects that would ruin the plot, but I was disappointed by some of the things that happened as the game went on, and the ending, for me anyway, felt cheap and tacked-on. Still, it’s an entertaining film with some gruesome moments and an engaging concept that I thought was perfect for a horror movie.
There have been plenty of films in which a group of people are put into a situation where they are forced to commit heinous or brutal acts in order to escape or survive, and this falls into the middle of them. It isn’t a special film, or one that stands out necessarily, but it is better than some of the films I’ve seen of a similar ilk. I’d say that it’s worth giving it a shot if you’re in the mood for an enjoyable slice of horror.
Would you Rather? is available to watch now on Netflix Streaming (UK)