Sadistic wealthy people always spell trouble for the downtrodden or down on their luck. 13 Tzameti, Hard Target and Hostel are all good examples of the wealthy torturing and killing the less fortunate for the purpose of their own entertainment.
The latest such cinematic example is Would You Rather. Starring Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect), Sasha Grey (my personal hard drive), Robb Wells (Hobo with a Shotgun), and John Heard (Home Alone), Would You Rather gathers a group of strangers for a wealthy aristocrat, played by Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator) who pits his guests against each other in sadistic games where they have to choose between two options – each of which can either cause pain or death to themselves or another guest.
So guests are put in awkward positions of having to decide whether to electrocute themselves or someone else or whether to whip a guest or stab another. Attempt to leave the game and you will be shot. Take too long to decide on the lesser of the two options and you will be killed. The goal is to become the last person standing and the reward differs on the needs of each individual.
The main character to which the movie focuses around the table is Iris (Snow). She agrees to be part of the unrevealed game in an effort to provide for her ailing brother. She is the first to be tested with an offer to eat portions of a steak in return for $1,000 (being a vegetarian, it was a tough decision). But as the evening draws further, Iris and the others will be forced to make decisions inflicting unspeakable pain towards the other participants.
Stealing the movie is Combs. He commands a presence at the top of the table and his evil is believable in large thanks to his charismatic and demented portrayal of sadistic Shepard Lambrick.
The movie doesn’t offer a lot of ‘What would you do in the same situation’? There is little hope or much choice as the game progresses. Still, the script by Steffen Schlachtenhaufen (Primal) is interesting enough in various character developments.
Not likely to make many Top 10 lists by year’s end, Would You Rather still offers valued entertainment and a few good self-inflicted wounds along the way.