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Would You Rather Review

February 20, 2013 | Posted by Tony Farinella
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Would You Rather Review  

On paper, Would You Rather sounded like a cheap Saw-rip off with random strangers in a room being put in various situations that ultimately lead to their death. However, the film has a much more restrained tone and also features some pretty interesting actors such as Jeffrey Combs, John Heard, Sasha Grey, and Brittany Snow. There are also some fascinating moral questions raised by the film as well and it has a motive all its own. I enjoyed the Saw films for what they were, but they didn’t always provide the best performances with the exception of Tobin Bell as Jigsaw and Shawnee Smith as Amanda. Here, we have some nuanced and very effective performances.

Iris (Brittany Snow) is struggling to find a job and take care of her sick brother who is battling cancer. All of the responsibility falls on her and while she is doing her best to handle it, it’s starting to get to her. Because of this, when she is offered a chance to help her brother by the suave and smooth talking Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs), she considers the opportunity, even if something doesn’t quite seem right. She’s simply told it’s a game and the winner of the game will be taken care of in any way that they need. He informs her that it’s a group of people who just haven’t had the best hand dealt to them in life.

Upon arriving at this dinner party and meeting the guests which include John Heard, Sasha Grey, and Eddie Steeples, to name a few, it seems harmless enough. Pretty soon, however, she realizes she’s involved in a deadly game of Would You Rather and the stakes are very, very high. It’s all run by the sadistic and twisted Shepard, and Jeffrey Combs brings him to life with a brilliantly evil performance that chews up the screen. Snow is also perfect as the down on her luck heroine while Sasha Grey plays a damaged character with a rough disposition.

Would You Rather is not going to please any gore hounds as all of the gruesome action takes place off screen, as the director doesn’t try to rub your nose in the brutality. It’s scarier this way because the film plays with your mind and is psychological as opposed to gross. It’s great to see a horror/thriller with a fantastic cast of diverse and seasoned actors. They all bring their A-game to the project as they play smart, logical, and reasonable characters who think this thing through as best they can in some trying circumstances. That was very refreshing as an audience member.

Would You Rather is sick and twisted fun from start to finish. The film had me on the edge of my seat, as I was watching it all unfold and wondering just what was going to happen next and how they were going to react. Director David Guy Levy keeps it all in one room for the most part, and all of the anxiety and fears of the characters are felt on screen. It’s a claustrophobic and intense film that is aided by screenwriter Steffen Schlachtenhaufen’s script, which is smart, sly, and very slick. I would probably put it more in the category of a thriller than a horror film, but however you slice it, this is an entertaining and engrossing film with really good performances.

Would You Rather website

The 411: This film surprised the hell out of me, and I had a lot of fun with it. From the performances to the screenplay which is smarter than you would think and to the stylish but not too stylish direction, Would You Rather is one of those mid-February films that deserves to be seen by people looking for something different at the theater. This is a clever, smart, and intense film that I hope finds an audience. It’s in limited release right now, but it is playing on VOD. Check it out!
Final Score:  7.5   [ Good ]  legend

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Tony Farinella

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