There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
2019 Netflix Halloween Countdown
For my third annual Netflix Halloween Countdown, I will once again be watching and reviewing some of the spooky, scary, gory, chilling, and horror-themed movies on Netflix. With each review, I will be including an up-to-date table that ranks these movies from best to worst. If you are looking to get in the Halloween spirit, by watching some Halloween-style movies, then these articles are for you!
Would You Rather
Iris (Brittany Snow) is struggling to make ends meet. Her brother is terminally ill, and she is struggling to find a way to pay for treatment. When she goes to meet with her brother's doctor, there is a very wealthy man, named Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs), waiting to meet her. Shepard Lambrick has heard Iris' story and wants to give her an amazing opportunity.
He has a lot of money and wants to give some of that money to someone who deserves it, but he only wants to give that money to the right person. This, he has found a group of people—who are all struggling in some way—and invites them to dinner at his house. There, he will try to get to know each person so that he can decide who is worthy of his donation. If Iris is chosen, Shepard Lambrick will pay for her brother's treatment and give her enough money to pay all of her debts. At the dinner, the guests discover that Shepard Lambrick has a more sinister plan to his night, when a high-stakes game of Would You Rather quickly turns into a sadistic game of life or death.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Game (+8pts)
Amy & The Questions (+8pts)
Julien & The Doctor (-3pts)
Jeffrey Combs (+4pts)
Pro: The Game (+8pts)
This was definitely one of the movie’s biggest strengths, because it was a simple and unique premise. The game forced its contestants—or victim's depending on how you look at it—to make impossible decisions. The game started by being pretty simple. Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs) offered to give the film's protagonist (a vegetarian) a specified amount of money if she ate the steak on her plate. She initially said no, but he continued to increase the amount of money until she gave in.
At first, the game was relatively harmless, but it escalated very quickly into a game of life or death. In order to survive, the "contestants" had to make a series of impossible decisions until only one "contestant" was left alive. The game was a lot of fun to watch and it made for a unique of movie. The impossible decisions reminded me (somewhat) of the Saw films, but there were a couple major differences. The first, was that this film presented the impossible decisions in a way that focuses (more) on the psychology behind them. The second, was that the film felt more like a game, where the Saw films were really just torture, which definitely worked for those movies. It was the type of engaging premise that had me on the edge of my seat, thinking about whether or not I could do what these characters had to.
Con: Disruptions (-6pts)
This film's premise was simple; it was a very sadistic game of Would You Rather—a game that we are all familiar with in one way or another. The movie was at its strongest when the characters were playing the game, but the story started to fall apart when it seemed to forget its own gimmick. Too often, characters in this movie tried to disrupt the game to survive— or to rescue other characters. This mentality made sense, but I only accepted it once. Sure, real people would behave this way, but it kept disrupting the game—which got annoying—and it did not make sense for the characters to keep doing this when it kept failing.
The movie had a very unique premise that continued to be disrupted, which ended up ruining the premise. The first one made sense, because that is how humans would behave in this scenario. However, after being shown the severity of their situations, and the fact that their attempted disruptions did not work, the characters should have just shut up and played the game. Every single person who saw the trailer wanted to watch how a sadistic game of Would You Rather would unfold. Instead, the movie felt like it should have been called: Trying Not to Play Would You Rather.
Pro: Amy & The Questions (+8pts)
One of best parts of this movie, in my opinion, were the questions it forced its viewers to ask themselves. A lot of these questions came in the form of Amy (Sasha Grey). The game asked: what are you willing to do in order to save yourself or someone you care about? Each contestant was desperate and they were there for a variety of reasons. We do not learn much of Amy's background, but this character realized very quickly that only one of these contestants was making it out alive. As a result, she was willing to do anything and everything to ensure that she was that person, and did not concern herself with the well-being of the other people at the table.
Are you willing to inflict harm on the person next to you—who you do not know—if it means saving someone you care about? Are you willing to kill others if it means saving yourself? Are you willing to inflict permanent harm—with unimaginable pain—on your body, if it means surviving to live another day? Again, a lot of these questions were raised as a result of the things Amy said or did. This character was very necessary for the story, and Sasha Grey played the part effectively.
Con: Julien & The Doctor (-3pts)
Now that I have gone over Amy, a necessary character, I have to address two very unnecessary characters. Julien (Robin Lord Taylor) was Shepard Lambrick's son. He had inherited everything he had, which included his father's sadistic nature. One thing he did not inherit from his father, however, was his father's manners and respect for women. While Shepard Lambrick sincerely respected women, his son was a rapist, and Shepard hated that. You may be wondering, what does any of this have to do with a game of Would You Rather? Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with the movie's premise, and Julien was an unnecessary character that did nothing but take up screen-time.
We got unnecessary character development for an unnecessary character. Julien was not part of the game, he was not the host of the game, he was just there, but he was not the only unnecessary character. Dr. Barden (Lawrence Gillard Jr.) was the doctor that persuaded Iris to enter the game. After that, he decided to get involved in another way, and I had no idea why. This character should have introduced Iris to Shapard Lambrick, and that should have been the end of the character. Instead we got more character development for another character that was not part of the game and ended up playing no significant role in the story itself. Character development is usually fine, but not when it comes at the expense of the character development for more important characters—such as the characters who were actually in the game.
Pro: Jeffrey Combs (+4pts)
While I enjoyed the premise of this film, I can admit that it was a bit ridiculous. However, thanks to the captivating performance from Jeffrey Combs, I totally bought it, as the actor played a character who I could completely buy as someone who would do what he was doing. He had to play an over-the-top character that had to sell the premise to both the audience, and the characters of the movie, and he did so successfully. He was the driving force for the plot of this movie, but he was also a comedic relief. As all of these sadistic things were happening, this guy was having an absolute blast. He was definitely the antagonist of the story, and was an effective one, but he was also very entertaining to watch.
Con: Predictable (-10pts)
In my opinion, this movie's biggest problem was that it was simply too predictable. Out of all the character who were "contestants" in this game, only one of them got any real character development. As a result, you will have a pretty good guess as to which character had the best chance of walking out of the game alive. Could other characters have survived as well? Maybe, but throughout the movie, it was painfully obvious that—if the game would reach a proper conclusion—it would be the main character that would survive.
The problem was that this movie was based on a game. It was based on a contest where half the fun would have been discovering who had what it took to survive. The filmmakers of this movie robbed their audience of that chance, and developing more of the characters at the table would have gone a long way in making this movie unpredictable. Another area where the film was way too obvious was how it hinted at the way it would end. I do not want to spoil it, but other characters hinted at what it would take to get out of this game alive. The biggest problem was that you will accurately guess how the movie ends over an hour in advance.
Grade: C+ (76pts)
Would You Rather is a decent horror film. Not great, but decent. It is not going to scare anyone, but it had some truly disturbing scenes where characters had to go to extreme lengths in order to survive. My favorite parts of the movie were the questions that it asks it's audience. It will make you ask yourself questions like: "What would you be willing to do to save yourself or someone you love?". Then—based on the severity of the challenges—it will make you doubt if you would have what it would take to go through with it.
This was an engaging premise, but it started to fall apart when it forgot what it was. This was a gimmick movie that—about halfway through the story—tried to steer away from the gimmick and it simply did not hold up. The side characters were either unnecessary, or severely underdeveloped, and the plot (including the ending) was incredibly predictable. This movie started strong, but the filmmakers had a tough time following through with the premise and delivered an unsatisfying ending. It would be a decent choice, if you are looking for an average, gory movie to watch during a night in.
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