Movie Review: “Would You Rather” – The One With Sasha Grey

Written by Angela July 25, 2014

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Sasha Grey is a prolific porn actress infamous for using her notoriety to garner more attention than she rightfully deserves from various media outlets. She is stone-faced, she is mediocre, and she is in David Guy Levy’s 2012 film, “Would You Rather.” Just like the preceding lines, this is a movie that depends solely upon a gimmicky cast to grab an audience’s initial attention. But once lured, it may require a gun to the head to keep them glued to their seats until the very end.

In a premise that makes one think of 2001’s camp comedy “Rat Race”, but only if it had somehow been directed by Rob Zombie, a young woman named Iris (Brittany Snow) finds herself trapped in a deadly game of “would you rather” during a dinner party hosted by an aberrant philanthropist by the name of Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs). Like her competitors, she too was lured into his home with the promise of a chance to win everything she could ever need to solve her life’s financial difficulties. With a terminally ill younger brother in need of a transplant, two deceased parents and no income to speak of, Iris was in no position to turn down a chance to make things right. But when the sadistic Lambrick reveals that the true stakes of the game are along the lines of kill or be killed, Iris must ask herself how far she’s really willing to go, and for how much.

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Guess who’s coming to dinner…

Beyond the honourable mention of Sasha Grey, the film offers up on a platter several bizarre appearances from the likes of Enver Gjokaj (Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse”), John Heard (Peter McCallister from “Home Alone”), Eddie Steeples (“My Name is Earl”), and Robb Wells (Ricky from “Trailer Park Boys”). Seeing Wells break from this character for the first time is one of the movie’s higher points). Needless to say, Levy is a director who doesn’t mind muddling his screen with a recognizable face or two, even when that face is more often than not recognizable from an entirely opposite genre (porn, family features, sitcom comedy). Ultimately, this hurts his movie more than it helps. No matter how much transparent exposition is expelled to Snow’s character during the first act, the motivations and overall plot are but an afterthought to the anticipation of how these actors will interact with one another around a dinner table. It’s a bit of a let down, seeing as almost all lines are delivered with the finesse of a bored fifth grader taking his mandatory drama class before recess, save for Snow attempts and Combs’ rather impressive scenery chewing antics. This man may eat his peanuts more villainously than Dr. No pets his cat, but there would be a ceiling-high pile of peanut skins before the rest of his cast mates snapped to life and remembered they are on the set of a horror film, not sitting in a mildly frustrating traffic jam.

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“I refuse to accept you don’t have a price.”

Apart from the problems with the performances and casting, I’ll give Levy credit for making an effort to allegorically address some of the cultural issues a la mode. Now, I’m no political speaking experty-type person, but the timing of this film’s release during the boom of the Occupy Movement in North America is at the very least slightly noteworthy. What better time to market a horror film that demonizes the wealthy and victimizes the poor? Although the complex subject of class warfare is far from new and perhaps treated a bit too simply here, the second and final acts do pick up as Iris’s desperation becomes all the more apparent against Lambrick’s extravagant insanity. Hell, there are even a few moments of genuine tension towards the end, leading to an semi-intriguing closing pay off.

“Would You Rather” isn’t the greatest thing to come out in recent history, but it’s not worst either. There are some unsettling scenes and Snow’s portrayal of Iris is quite likable. Even though its cast works against it, it’s also one of the key reasons to sit down and give the thing a gander. After all, if mind numbing exposition and cardboard social commentary isn’t your thing, there’s always a Trailer Park Boy trying to behave like a grown up alongside Sasha Grey’s exuberantly awful acting to look forward to.

My Rating: 5/10

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About Angela

Angela McInnes is an English major and up-and-coming horror film aficionado. To her, happiness is a bottle of rum and a creature-feature on a Saturday night.

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