Review: WOULD YOU RATHER (2013)

You would rather watch something which isn’t as entirely stupid as this film but we aren’t one to judge…

Would You Rather  WOULD YOU RATHER

Director: David Guy Levy

Cast: Brittany Snow, Jeffrey Combs, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Enver Gjokaj, Sasha Grey, John Hurd, Charlie Hofheimer, Logan Miller

There is a variety of film that falls under the very loose categorization of being focused on what happens when regular people are pushed to their limits and testing how far they will go to defend themselves and their loved ones. It can produce interesting, inventive, fun, and smart films. Earlier films that have been particularly interested in exploring this idea have been THE HILLS HAVE EYES, THE STRANGERS, STRAW DOGS, and even HOSTEL. They are all examples of this central theme contributing to quality film making. Whatever else one might think of those films, they don’t squander an interesting premise.

The same can’t really be said for WOULD YOU RATHER.

The film starts with Brittany Snow being made an offer in a doctors office by Jeffrey Combs character. Snow’s character has a brother that is severely ill, and Combs tells her that she is a candidate for a special program which will result in her brother being given all the medical treatment he needs and enough for her to return to college while her brother is well cared for at home. He tells her that all she has to do is come to a dinner party at his home, attended by a number of other people and win a game they will play. Since this film is being reviewed here on Truly Disturbing, it doesn’t take a psychic to figure out that it isn’t a normal dinner party and the game in question isn’t tic-tac-toe or Taboo or Twister.

For a film as simple as this, the list of things that are wrong with it is long. By the time the end of the film comes around, it’s impossible not to wonder exactly why this movie was made, aside from the possibility of making money, of course. The foremost problem is the script. There aren’t any characters in the film. There are actors, they have lines which they recite, and there are events that occur, following something that is akin to what could be referred to as a plot. There aren’t any characters though. With the exception of Brittany Snow’s character, Iris, none of the characters is given anything that could be roughly described as motivation or back story. There’s nothing in the film that gives the audience any idea why anyone other than Snow’s character is involved with any of this. There isn’t even any suggestion as to why any of it is happening either.

This is what people who are bent on hating horror claim the entire genre is, a collection of scenes of senseless torture, violence and sadism. What script and story exist here seem more like excuses for a poorly made film about watching people terrorize each other. Weirdly, there’s very little in the way of graphic violence at the same time. The shame in this is that if there were great special effects, that might at least give some excuse for the rest of the film. There are virtually no effects, and the few shots that call for them are wasted. It’s not even as if director and producer David Guy Levy was attempting to make a film that would be worth seeing for the shock value. The answer to the question of exactly why this film exists is known only to those who financed it and created it.

Ninety percent of the film takes place in one room and the design is decent in not being terrible enough to draw attention to itself, but it’s also not at all memorable or very interesting. The cinematography is elementary, and looks like a good television movie of the week. There is absolutely nothing cinematic about it.

The great and wonderful Jeffrey Combs does his best to keep this interesting and to make this a film that might be memorable for any reason. He’s one of the great cult actors of his generation, but even he can’t save this one. There’s nothing in the script for him to grab onto and run with to the fullest of his capabilities. He does the best he can with what he has, and it’s obvious that he wasn’t given enough.

Worse films have definitely been made. There have probably been films made for worse reasons. WOULD YOU RATHER ends up suffering from two fundamental problems, from which the rest grow. It’s unstoppably mediocre. Worse than that, it’s aggressively stupid. If you’re looking to pass an hour and half, there are thousands of other films which would be more interesting in any number of ways. It’s no fun to write a negative review for a new horror film that isn’t a sequel or a remake, but this one left me no choice.

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