I’d Rather Do Something Unmentionable:
Would You Rather
Even the great Jeffrey Combs—yes, good old Dr. Herbert West himself— can’t re-animate this turkey with life. In fact, the most awful thing about it is that the title isn’t the most awful thing about it! And seriously, isn’t that title just about one of the worst that you’re ever likely to come across?
Would You Rather; God, it invites so many replies. Apparently it’s some kind of dozy children’s game or something. Never having had friends as a kid I wouldn’t know; but I do know a really bad title when I hear one.
Iris, played by the likeable Brittany Snow, has fallen on hard times. Her parents are dead, she can’t get a job and she needs to get her hands on some loot in order to get her terminally-ill brother a transplant. Talk about having some shit luck. Maybe this is meant to make those of us in the audience who have been having shit luck for years identify with her. It doesn’t. It just sets the tone for the depression at the human condition that is to follow.
She thinks that her problems are over when she applies for a grant from evil and mad ‘philanthropist’ Shepard Lambrick. We know that that he’s evil and mad because when she first meets him he is rudely stuffing his mouth with nuts and doesn’t seem to give a toss that he’s littering the couch that he’s sitting on. Now that’s evil. That and he’s played by Jeffrey Combs.
It seems that, once a year, the Lambrick Foundation invites eight participants to come to a sleazy old house, be ritually humiliated, forced to accept that they are there with the begging bowl and then participate in a game that will leave one winner alive and the losers dead.
I perked up initially as I’m a sucker for that kind of genteel ‘games-in-the-drawing-room’ Agatha Christie malarkey; but it soon became evident that it wasn’t genteel, not by a long shot. Nor was it a Legend of Hell House type scenario. In fact, despite the feeling that you had seen this same tale a hundred times before it didn’t really resemble anything. The games weren’t inventive enough to be compared to the Saw franchise; and it’s just not gory enough to appeal to the Torture Porn crowd. It’s just flat and annoying. Director David Guy Levy seems hell bent on pointing his camera anywhere except where we find something interesting. Even in introducing his characters he doesn’t give us a close-up half the time. It’s just ‘oh that’s some black-haired chick over there’; then we wait to see what she looks like just in case she’ll have some bearing on the plot (she will). Not a hope: we find ourselves holding a hand over our eyes and squinting like crazy to get a look that won’t come for another half hour. Like I said, irritating.
Perhaps it’s all meant to show us– in the manner of some warped social experiment that we’ll eventually get around to doing a reality show on– that people are in the main just out for themselves. If it was, it’s a bit of a redundant message I would have thought.
In the end, Jeffrey Combs is about the only reason to waste your time; and he does really rather well, in that snide way of his, with the dialogue that writer Steffan Schlachtenhaufen has given him. Ah, Jeffrey; the really bad movies that I’ve sat through all for love of you.
And do you know, in the manner of a dog that is regularly beaten by a brutal master, I’ll probably be back for your next one.