More and more films premiere on Video on Demand — if they don’t simply bypass a theatrical release altogether. Because VOD reviews are often scarce and hard to find, Criticwire created VODetails, a recurring column to help you figure out whether a new VOD release is worth your hard-earned dollar. This time we’re looking at “Would You Rather,” a minimalist horror tale of a sadistic dinner party — not a film adaptation of everyone’s favorite part of the Comedy Bang Bang podcast.
Director: David Guy Levy
Cast: Brittany Snow, Jeffrey Combs, John Heard, Sasha Grey
Current Criticwire Average: B (1 review)
Official Synopsis: “What would you do if a millionaire offered you a chance to solve all your life’s problems? After the tragic death of her parents, Iris (Brittany Snow) is desperate to make ends meet while caring for her terminally ill younger brother. Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs), a seemingly philanthropic aristocrat, expresses an interest in helping them. He invites her to an exclusive dinner party that offers the chance at untold riches. When she arrives she finds herself in a group of similarly desperate individuals from the gruff middle aged Conway (John Heard) to the dark loner Amy (Sasha Grey). They soon find themselves trapped in Lambrick’s mansion and forced to play a sadistic game of Would You Rather, where only the winner will get out alive. As the game progress Iris must decide how far she will go to save her brother… and herself.“
“You’ll never play the titular parlor game again after watching Would You Rather, director David Guy Levy’s clever exercise in torture porn that manages to display as much restraint as genuine sickness.
“The contrived plot is rudimentary, and the actors convey maximum terror.“
“Unfolding largely in real time, the film gets credit for its ability to keep us guessing early on but eventually reveals that where it’s going is nowhere near as interesting as where it might have; there’s no real wisdom (or even outrage) to be found in Levy’s dissection of how quickly we revert to animal instinct and turn on one another once the cards are down.“
“Would You Rather has one major asset in an appropriately gothic, larger-than-life performance by Jeffrey Combs, the great, chameleon-like character actor best known for playing a mad scientist in Re-Animator.“
“‘Would You Rather’ is claustrophobic in its small scale and as precise as a well-crafted short story, but it may have worked better as a short film than as a feature.“