Just incase you haven’t figured it out, this game isn’t about helping each other. It’s about eliminating each other!
There is something to be said for the genre nicknamed”torture porn”, actually, before I go further I should explain what “torture porn” is for those of you that aren’t aware. “Torture porn” is a sub-genre of horror that basically involves people being mutilated, such examples of this include the “Saw” franchise, the “Hostel” films or various others. So there you have it in a nutshell, so if you’re not even remotely interested in this sort of thing then you might as well leave the review now.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not overly a fan of the genre for the violence aspect, however, some of the psychology aspects to it do intrigue me somewhat, and I think that’s why I watch more of them than I should, or indeed why any fully sane person would want to. Ultimately that is what has lead me onto the film “Would You Rather”.
The more frequent readers amongst you will know that I recently subscribed to Netflix and I have been exploring some of the quieter corners of it, and then I realised that if there is one genre that I’ve never really touched on on this site, it is “torture porn”. Don’t expect this to become a regular thing, but I figure as I have nothing else to do today, I might as well watch and review it.
Running out of money to support her brother’s medical bills, Iris (Snow) agrees to a dinner hosted by Shepard (Combs). There will be a number of guests competing against each other in a game, with the winner receiving enough money to cover them for the foreseeable future. The dinner starts innocently enough, with Iris (a vegetarian) being offered $10,000 to simply eat a steak, and Conway (Heard), a recovering alcoholic, earning $50,000 to down a full decanter of scotch. Shepard soon explains the game of simply choosing between two options, and you have fifteen seconds to make that choice. They are all given one final chance to leave but no-one takes that up.
Soon afterwards an electrocution device is brought into the room and Conway tries to leave, but he is shot by Bevans (Coyne), the butler. The first round involves straps with metal discs being attached to the heads of two people, one is given the device and has to choose between electrocuting themselves or the other. Everyone makes it through the first round, although some are electrocuted twice (some opt for themselves rather than the other person, whereas they also get chosen when another person has the controls). The next round requires each person to choose between stabbing one person in the leg, or hitting another with a large stick three times.
Travis (Hofheimer) speaks out and is singled out by Shepard throughout the round, but he finally gets a break when Peter (Wells) stabs Linda (Julie Squibb), but he accidentally kills her by catching her femoral artery. As time goes on, the numbers soon dwindle, how long can this go on for?
Typical “torture porn”?
When I started watching this film, and indeed the trailer, I was not impressed. I thought this looks like your typical low-budget horror film, written with very little skill, afterall, there are a LOT of cliches in terms of the characters, but then it started getting interesting.
I will start with the one negative that I really have and that is the amount of cliched characters that there are in this film. You’ve got the incredibly selfish old woman that thinks it’s unfair people choose her to get the punishment, even if the other option practically kills the other person, a goth inspired girl that’s like “fuck this” and goes gung-ho on the situation, a war vet who goes “I’ve had worse” and so many others that it is a little tedious at times. As I say though, that is the only real negative that I can think of.
One thing that never really seems to get discussed when talking about this type of film is the morality behind pretty much everything. For example, in the “Saw” films it is basically about making the person in question appreciate their life, and in “Would You Rather” there is the moral question of what is worse, stabbing someone in the leg or whipping someone repeatedly over and over, and that’s why I hated the old woman in the film, she is happy for Travis to be whipped three times for what would be the fourth time, probably killing him, just so she can be fine. It’s an interesting examination from a psychological point of view.
This starts right from the first choose, which is the point that the film started impressing me. You’re asking such simple things, such would someone be willing to give up their moral beliefs (vegetarian) or something that they’ve worked hard for (sixteen years sobriety) in order to get some money, and I must single out the excellent acting of John Heard for the latter of those two situations.
I don’t really have much more to say to be honest.
As far as this type of film goes, this is one of the better ones, and for comparison purposes, if this was in the “Saw” franchise then it would probably rank second or third, and certainly better than the second trilogy (four, six and six) put together.
If you’re not averse to this type of film then I’d say give it a try, there are far worse “normal” films out there than this.