johnlink ranks WOULD YOU RATHER (2012)

WOULD YOU RATHER is an indie horror flick which was picked up by IFC and subsequently given a run on HBO. It is a minor horror film, to be sure, but the idea seemed to be worthy enough to give it a shot. Sometimes there is nothing better than sinking into the couch late at night with a horror movie for which you have no expectations whatsoever.


I watched WOULD YOU RATHER (2012) on 2.8.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

Young Iris (Brittany Snow) has had to drop out of college to take care of her brother, who is suffering from cancer. They have no parents, no money, and no hope. Iris is suddenly given an opportunity to play a game which may result in the complete financial payment and acquisition of a bone marrow donor should she win. SHe is hesitant at first, but gives in (which is good, because otherwise we would not have a movie). The mysterious stranger is Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs, of REANIMATOR fame), and he is very obviously a deviant.

The game, it turns out, pits nearly a dozen people around a table in a simple game of Would You Rather. They are given increasingly difficult choices (electrocute yourself, or the person sitting next to you) which begin to lead towards death. People are picked off one by one as the game progresses. The game, then, is last man standing.

There are some really interesting things done here by writer Steffan Schlachtenhaufen. The obvious clichés are mostly avoided. A savior proves pointless. The challenges often have unpredictable results. The final moment of the game is very surprising. In putting together a horror film in which everyone is sitting around a table and all of the cards are laid out, as it were, Schlachtenhaufen manages to defy the odds. He is aided by the simple direction of Director David Guy Levy. This movie mostly avoids tricks and stunts. It uses mostly practical effects and psychological trauma.

On the other hand, this is a movie written with a sequel and a series in mind. The conclusion is somewhat anticlimactic and the movie’s final moment is infuriating. The game itself seems to hold back, with possible escalation saved for a second film. The themes are derivative of SAW, with the choices of self-preservation being at the forefront. SAW, for all of its bloody rawness, at least picks people who are ‘guilty’ of something as its contestants. WOULD YOU RATHER is a slaughter of sheep by a Shepard whose social quirks often feel put-on rather than genuine.

The shortfalls, however, don’t overshadow the worthwhile bits. This is a horror movie with some grit. The acting works, even if some of the casting is gimmicky and we never really fully see the terror these people are facing in the moment to moment interaction. The villains are properly villainous, and the contestants are mostly likable. One who is particularly not likable, Amy (Sasha Grey), is expected to come to a predictable end. Her fate is surprising. Some might find it, again, anticlimactic. However, the straightforward way in which her character is written manages to avoid becoming a mere stereotypical character. Because this is a movie whose premise limited it from the beginning , much of the credit for it being entertaining has to go to  Schlachtenhaufen.

This is torture porn light. This isn’t pure physical brutality, though it certainly is in terms of the psychological trauma of the characters. It is worth a visit for fans of the genre, though it is not a transcendent film like the original SAW.





~ by johnlink00 on February 9, 2014.

One Response to “johnlink ranks WOULD YOU RATHER (2012)”

  1. Sounds like something I’m happy avoiding.

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