Man, times have changed. It used to be a tried-and-true fact that even if a movie was crap, you could enjoy it for one reason and one reason only: Jeffrey Combs would find a way to entertain you. Not so much here in Would You Rather?, sadly. While Combs is easily the best part of the whole mess, his role is at-best derivative. At worst, it’s shamefully phoned-in – as if even Combs realized this trash wasn’t worthy of him so why bother pretending to give a shit?
Brittany Snow stars in the movie as Iris, a milquetoast young woman desperate for cash to help with her brother’s mounting medical expenses. While being turned down by her employer for an advance, she is introduced to Combs’ character – Shepard Lambrick – a supposed philanthropist who invites Iris to a private dinner party. She is told that there will be a game at this party, and that at the end of the game – win or lose – her brother’s treatments will be completely covered. So of course she jumps right in, because that sounds totally legit, right? *smh*
Anyhoo – the film quickly gets to its *cough* meat & bones: the formerly-innocuous game “Would You Rather?” Iris and the other invitees (all people desperate for money for one reason or another) dine at the Lambrick house and it is here where the game immediately begins to play out. Initially, Lambrick and his jerkface of a son challenge their guests to do something simple – they pay the vegetarian to eat some meat, or the alcoholic to have some Scotch. Once the family disarms their guests with the simple stuff, the next challenge comes – shocking another member of the dinner party, or taking the shock yourself. Next comes stabbing. Then comes whipping. Then comes drowning and much worse.
It’s basically Dinner With Schmucks meets Saw, but without the moral ambiguity of any type of Jigsaw character or any of the ironic humor of Schmucks. The Lambricks are shitheads – they have no lesson-teaching motive. They use their money to torture and terrorize desperate people, forcing them into a game they can never win. Unfortunately, everyone playing the game is basically a shithead too. This is an enormous letdown considering some of the talent in the cast (what are you doing here John Heard? Eddie Steeples?). Even porn-star Sasha Grey is wasted – playing a thoroughly unlikable and one-note character who you genuinely can’t wait to die a horrible death.
If there is a redeeming value to Would You Rather it’s that it ends relatively well. If you can stick it out through every seen-it-before scenario and every heard-it-before line to make it to the end, you’re rewarded with a semi-satisfactory ending for several characters you couldn’t possibly care any less about. But hey . . . in a horror movie, finding a good ending is a plus so I’ll take it.