I'm just gonna lay it out: I'm gonna spoil the shit out of this movie. It would be an awful short review if I couldn't divulge in the details. So this is your fair warning. If you have had an interest in this movie, go watch it now, then come back. I mean, the movie is well worth watching regardless, but the most fun was NOT knowing what was going to happen. For a movie to keep me on the edge of my seat in the modern day is almost unheard of. I'm practically Nostradamus, basically. I've had this movie in my Netflix queue for some time now, and I had the luxury of watching it blindly and having no idea what was next.
Iris, played by Brittany Snow, is caring for her teenage brother, who is dealing with I think leukemia, and they just can't really make ends meet. He needs a bone marrow transplant, and life just isn't going so well for them. Conveniently, their doctor introduces her to a philanthropist by the name of Mr. Lambrick, played by the unbelievable Jeffrey Combs, the Re-Animator himself. He's always just perfect in the everything he's in. Anyway. Lambrick tells Iris that she can come to his house to play a game, and if she wins, she and her brother will be financially set for life, all debts will be paid, medical costs taken care of. The doctor backs him up and says that he played the game and won, and look where he's at now. Probably against her better judgment, but desperate to help her brother, she agrees. So she shows up to Lambrick's mansion, and is seated at a dinner table with a random group of about 8 or so people.
Almost immediately, Lambrick explains that the game they have all showed up to play is basically a demented version of "Would you rather?". Usually an innocent and entertaining game played by kids, where you have to decide to choose between two dares basically. Would you rather shave your eyebrow or run down the street naked? You get the gist. Difference is, here is a version being emceed by a wealthy maniac. Instead here, it's "would you rather stab the guy sitting next to you in the thigh with an ice pick, or electrocute the elderly lady next to you with a car battery?" It's Price Is Right meets SAW. The biggest difference here is where SAW has some utterly interesting and inventive traps, they're very fantastic to the point of not really being that realistic. Yes, there are enough effed up people in the world that have done as bad as that, but in this movie, it's very practical, real world things, things that make you wince because in some morbid corner of your mind, you're afraid that *could* happen.
In fact, some of the situations are set up to be purely mental. In fact, even though they have physical repercussions, Lambrick's point of all of this is to show the mental strain, he explains. The best way to see a person's true, raw self, is to see them use their faculties and judgment to answer a question when in stress. In the heat of the moment of a life changing decision, how someone uses their own logic, ethics, judgment, goes a long way in showing the true nature of someone. Take our first challenge, for example. The guy that played the dad in 'Home Alone' is revealed to be a recovering alcoholic for 16 years. So here is his conundrum: drink a glass of wine for $10,000, or a bottle of scotch for $50,000 dollars. At first, I thought, well that's an easy one. But when reality set in, I think he realized that either one is going to ruin his sobriety, might as well go for the gold. After his first round, he realizes he regrets even showing up and wants to leave. Let's just say that you don't exit this game.
The next several rounds are very entertaining, some physically brutal, but oddly enough, the amount of gore is relatively low. We see things like stabbings with an ice pick, whippings, electrocutions, drownings, a hand blown off by dynamite, and most brutal of all, slicing an eyeball open with a razor blade. Thanks for spoiling that one, movie cover. But like I said, it's all done in a very tasteful way, and even with this wonderfully twisted sense of humor. Very rarely is stabbing an old lady in a wheelchair with an ice pick just outright hilarious like it is in this movie. One thing that makes the humor and everything flow so well is that the characters in this movie are actually all likeable. Usually when you get a typically average group of people together in a horror movie, 3/4ths of them are characters you hate. How many times have we watched a 'Friday the 13th' movie and thought to ourselves, "I can't wait until Jason effs her up"? There was only one character in this movie that I truly didn't care for, but that's how she was written to be.
I obviously had a blast with this movie. So many movie with the same elements are done in such a serious manner and mean spirit. Bar a somewhat pointless subplot with the doctor trying to break into the mansion to save Iris, everything in this movie was just fun. Maybe I'm just disturbed, but in my mind, in just my everyday life, I've thought about being faced with making horrible decisions like this. It's almost enough to make your skin crawl to see it done in a semi-realistic but witty and almost satirical way. Be sure and stay 'til the very end. It pretty much made it all worthwhile. I love an ending that shines a light on how cruel fate can be :)
"Would You Rather?" gets 8 ice picks to the thigh out of 10! (8 out of 10)
Here's the the original trailer: