Friday, February 28, 2014

I'd Rather Not

A friend recently recommended an oddball movie called Would You Rather. The movie tells the story of a wealthy eccentric who invites eight people to a dinner party. All are in desperate need of money, and he is willing to provide all that is needed and more... to the one of them who wins the sadistic game he's crafted. The unwilling players must compromise their principles, and ultimately fight just to survive the ordeal.

Essentially, this movie is the strange love child of Saw and Dinner for Schmucks. It's exactly what you'd expect, a sadistic entry in the "torture porn" genre that is utterly predictable. The ending of the entire movie is readily apparent by the end of the first 30 minutes, with the only mystery the exact nature of the cruel stunts the players will be forced to perform. (And even many of those are rather predictable.)

What friend would recommend this to me and why? Well, a friend who knows I'd recognize a lot of the actors in it. It's peppered with people who have had significant roles on the genre shows that are the bread and butter of folks like us. There's Enver Gjokaj, from Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. There's Lawrence Gilliard Jr, currently recurring on The Walking Dead. Chances are you've seen star Brittany Snow somewhere.

But the real crown jewel in the casting is Jeffrey Combs. Most people won't know his name, but he's the chameleon-like actor who played a half-dozen roles on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise -- most memorably Weyoun, Brunt, and Shran. (And he was completely different in every one of them.) This guy is one of the most underrated working actors today, a man who deserves to be a whole lot more famous than he is. And I'm not the only one who thinks so; when I searched the web for other reviews of Would You Rather, I found an avalanche of praise for his work (including one guy who thinks he gave an Oscar-worthy performance in Peter Jackson's The Frighteners). Jeffrey Combs has a ton of fun in this movie. Frankly, he has more fun that the audience -- but he does manage to redeem an otherwise unwatchable movie. His playful/menacing, insane/sane role as the party host is simply delicious.

Still, if the nicest thing I can say about a Saw knockoff is that it has better acting than Saw? Well, that's not saying much. Even if you're a Jeffrey Combs fan, there are far better choices than this movie. Basically, if you're a "torture porn" horror film fan that wants to see all the movies in the subgenre, this is for you. For the rest of us? Would You Rather is only worth a D, and not worth your time.

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