February 8, 2013
Steffen Schlachtenhaufen, David Guy Levy
David Guy Levy
Brittany Snow as Iris
Jeffrey Combs as Shepard Lambrick
Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as Dr. Barden
Iris is desperate for a job to help support her ailing brother. She is invited to the office of her brother’s doctor to discuss methods to ameliorate the expenses of her medical bills. Yet, upon arrival she is presented with an offer by a wealthy philanthropist, Shepard Lambrick, to attend a dinner party and participate in a contest. If she wins, all medical expenses and procedures for her brother will be covered. Not until she arrives does she discover, the contest is a simple game of Would-You-Rather played around a dinner table… with each turn delivering painful, gruesome and sometimes deadly consequences.
Ice picks, razor blades and M-80s, are just some of the delightful tools in this high stakes game of survival in which eight players participate – some more vigorously than others. Also, if you’ve ever been shocked to the point where your knees buckle – say an electric fence, or something similar… the first round will have you cringing.
There is not too much original here, but if you enjoyed the Saw or Hostel franchise you will not be disappointed in this new addition to the torture subgenre. The execution is solid. There are not too many scares, but only because the tension is nonstop. Once the game begins, relaxation is not an option, especially for viewers who think a few moves ahead.
A newcomer to horror, David Guy Levy has probably stuffed more terror and violence into a single room than any other director. As the diabolical Lambrick, Jeffrey Combs (from the original Re-Animator) delivers a delightfully sadistic performance. Brittany Snow and the rest of the game players do a nice job of carrying the tension in their actions and faces, but ultimately Combs steals the show. Although, his lines are reminiscent of several other horror villains, like the movie as a whole, his execution makes them all the more memorable. The excitement in his eyes as he presents options to each player is that of a child at his first birthday party, yet his breathing betrays a teenager – anticipating his first sexual encounter. The result is a character – Lambrick – who visibly relishes every movement of every player in his deadly game and cannot hold back on the commentary. “You made a decision and there was a consequence.”
Combs’ high quality performance also sucks viewers into Lambrick’s logic. You may find yourself empathizing with his line of thought and consider the game’s broader parallels to life, generally. Every decision has consequences that potentially hurt and may even lead to the death of someone (including ourselves). Even simple decisions like smoking a cigarette, or driving to work has the potential to hurt ourselves and others. Yet, usually we are unaware of any direct connection between our actions and their ultimate consequences. We move about in blissful ignorance, often several degrees removed from the potential macabre. By bringing the action and consequence directly to fore – Would You Rather makes you aware and then some. There is no difference between what Lambrick’s players do and what the rest of us do every day. The only difference is that Lambrick cuts out the middle man and makes his players fully experience the consequences of their actions. Happy viewing… of yourself.