Saturday, 13 June 2015

The Parapet of Rant 13/06/2015

Would You Rather? is a 2012 horror film, based on the premise that writing is difficult so let's just take a childhood/drunken adult game and make a movie around it so we can try to be Saw and think of gruesome ways to injure, maim and murder people.

The film opens with our protagonist, Iris, being interviewed for a job in a restaurant, where unnecessary and somewhat inappropriate questions are asked as a way of finding out her back story. So really she's being interviewed for a position at the Exposition Factory, which she would most certainly get. Anyway, we learn her brother is sick and she needs money. Done. Sorted. Character motivation is out of the way nice and early.

After a brief scene to introduce the brother and make us connect with their struggle and identify with them (it doesn't work by the way) we get to the all important moment of Iris meeting Shepard Lambrick, a wealthy philanthropist that likes to help out people in tough situations. She is introduced to him by Dr. Barden, the doctor working on her brother's case. Or as I shall be referring to him, Bob from The Walking Dead. Lambrick invites Iris to his house for a dinner with a group of people, all in financial situations such as hers, and at the end of the dinner there will be a contest with the winner receiving all the help they could possibly need. We also learn that Bob was a previous winner of the game.

Iris goes off to contemplate this for dramatic tension reasons (another thing that doesn't work) and of course ends up agreeing so that the film can actually take place and not just consist of her and her brother staring forlornly at a mountain of bills and weeping about crippling debt and the absence of suitable bone marrow donors.

Upon arrival at the Lambrick Estate Iris is shown to a room full of her fellow guests by a very burly butler, and sees for the first time who she'll be competing against. These include: Darnell from My Name Is Earl, Guy from Agent Carter, Token Old Woman (In a Wheelchair) For Future Shock Value, Token Angry  but Hot Chick (who is played by Sasha Grey who won the AVN Award for Best Anal Sex Scene in 2008 for Anal Cavity Search 6), The Dad from Home Alone, Mysterious Soldier and Ricky from Trailer Park Boys.

The dinner begins and after revealing she is vegetarian, Iris is offered $10,000 to eat the steak and foie gras on her plate. She does, because who the fuck wouldn't, and so our first look at the game is complete. The next is a recovering alcoholic taking $50,000 to drink an entire decanter of scotch.

The dinner ends and the contest truly starts. What follows is several rounds of various Would You Rather? questions designed to make the watcher go "Oh god no! What will they do? That's such a hard decision!". I say designed, because in reality while watching it I was wondering "If you're going to make a horror out of a kids' game, think outside the box. Something like Dizzy Dizzy Dinosaurs. You have to spin around and if you stop or slow down you explode. Or people get chased by a Velociraptor that's been on the waltzers all day." Throw in an escape effort, an unnecessary rape attempt (because films just need to have those apparently), and an ending scene that I guessed at the start and laughed at for a solid two minutes, and you've got your film.

I know I haven't painted this film in a good light, and objectively it could be worse. With so many horror films out there, there are others that are the film equivalent of being set on fire while your ex tells you you've gained a few pounds and your reviews are mediocre. The biggest problem with it is that's it lazy. Lazy writing, lazy follow through, lazy acting. It feels like the writer got a brainwave of making Would You Rather? more than just a game to pass the time and become this life or death, everything is about choices sort of thing, and then when it came time to put pen to paper, picked up the Screenwriting Compendium of Clichés and just went to town. Even the questions lack some imagination. "Would you rather electrocute yourself or the person next to you?" Please. I once proposed "Would you rather be shrunk down and put up Harry Styles' arse, head first up to your knees, Or be shrunk down and be Beyoncé's tampon?".THAT is how you play Would You Rather? And it would make a much more interesting film if those were the kind of choices players had to take part in.

Nora Hanney

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