Brittany Snow stars in a horror flick that's essentially Saw meets House on Haunted Hill in premise alone. Also starring the incredibly sexy Sasha Grey (there's a reason she gets paid to schtoup on-camera), Jeffrey Combs (a horror icon I never cared about) and Eddie Steeples (My Name Is Earl), the film is about a group of people on hard times who are given a potential way out through a lethal dinner involving moral and desperate decisions.
Snow is one of those actresses I've always liked. Pretty, but not over the top like a Disney or Nickelodeon kid, talented vocally, can scream her head off when it comes to the scary stuff. The film is a slow-burn, almost 70's-inspired take, with some strong Kubrickian flair, most closely related to The Shining. That said, though I never liked The Shining, I appreciate the level of dread the film evokes. Would You Rather does the same thing, albeit while zipping along at a brisk 90 minutes or so.
Director David Guy Leavy not only apes Kubrick in the tension department, he also seems to be channeling Ti West, who, in my opinion, has yet to make a film worth watching. While not exactly ripping off House of The Devil, the flick has that level of paranoia, only Would You Rather is executed in a competent way. Once the film gets going, it barely takes a break, though when it does, the pacing is solid.
Combs is over the top, but he's over the top in everything, so, I guess that's his one speed. Grey is sort of terrible, like a wooden version of Michelle Rodriguez. The rest of the cast is quite solid. My solitary gripe is Combs. I keep coming back to it, I know, but he's just all wrong for this character. The role calls for a WASP-y prick. Barry Bostwick, Tim Robbins, someone like that would've been a far better choice than Combs. Someone who represents the aristocracy in society. Maybe Ray Wise? Someone like that.
While the ending of the film is telegraphed from the character introductions, it's still a bit of a downer. A smarter ending would've been nice, considering the brutality and ugliness that came before. An enjoyable film, overall, geared toward the horror fan with a taste for the slower-paced classics of the 70's.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
A commentary by the writer and director, trailers for other IFC Films releases, and a poster gallery.
"Would You Rather" is on sale July 9, 2013 and is not rated. Horror. Directed by David Guy Levy. Written by Steffen Schlachtenhaufen. Starring Brittany Snow, Jeffrey Combs, Sasha Grey.