Review: Would You Rather (2013), Now Available On Demand and Amazon.com, Is Worth Your Time! (Includes Horror Boom and Dread Central’s Review)

I was lucky enough to find director David Guy Levy‘s Would You Rather  available today to watch on Amazon (and not for an insanely expensive price, either; more reasonable than the Comcast/Xfinity price). The set-up goes like this:

Desperate to help her ailing brother, a young woman, Iris (Brittany Snow), desperate to help her ailing brother, agrees to compete in a deadly game of “Would You Rather,” hosted by a sadistic aristocrat, Mr. Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs), at his luxurious mansion/estate. Iris –and the other seven ‘players’– have no idea they are in way over their heads until it’s too late to opt out. They all need the money desperately and let that cloud their judgement when agreeing to play, even after hearing the rules and being given a chance to leave. Needless to say, they begin to regret their decisions shortly after the game begins. The very apt tagline, which takes on new meaning once you’ve seen the entire film, is: Tell yourself it’s just a game.
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I’m including the Dread Central review because I agree pretty closely with theirs on more or less all their points – though I think any kind of comparisons to Saw  (or the sequels, anyway) aren’t really that accurate.  Click the big red link below to read Dread Central’s great review by The Horror Chick, then Horror Boom’s thoughts on the movie after the link.

Would You Rather (2013)  Horror Movie, DVD, & Book Reviews, News, Interviews at Dread Central.

 

OK, now our turn:

The film takes the first half hour to set up the situation, the characters, the setting, and finally the actual rules of the “Would You Rather” game. None of this is remotely boring; screenwriter Steffen Schlachtenhaufen knows exactly the right amount of time to spend to interest and hook the audience, taking a slow-burn approach (if you could call this movie a slow burn… I guess it depends on your definition of a slow burn, I’ve found it to be a subjective term for viewers). We’re in the dark more or less the same amount of the characters–we discover the rules of ‘would you rather’ and how horrible or painful the choices are going to be right along with the characters, with information being doled out to the poor “guests” at the same time it is to us.*

Towards the end of the first third of the film, things start getting tense and uncomfortable as the guests eat a gourmet dinner served to them, but nothing gets too ugly until after dinner, when the game actually starts. All eight guests get one chance to leave after the rules are explained– Comb’s character reminds them of the game they might have played as kids- but no-one acts on it then, of course. This time the host asks the questions, taking turns, and for the first round they only have 15 seconds to make the decision.  During the first round, two characters at a time have a leather strap which is hooked to a machine. When a button is pressed by the guest who has been asked would you rather, they have the choice to shock themselves or the other person depending on what button they press. While not gory, it’s fairly tense as they only have fifteen seconds to decide before being “eliminated.”  Oh, and by “eliminated”, Lambrick means “executed by gunshot”.

We get to know and care about the characters more (or which ones we start to hope will end up having to do something horrible to themselves–I spent most of the last half of the movie rooting for Sasha Grey‘s mean-spirited, how shall I describe her, See-You-And-Tea of a character to get the worst death in the movie). Speaking of the actors,  I had no problems with any of the cast, and it took me till over halfway in to recognize Ricky, better known as one of the Trailer Park Boys (well, the actor, Rob Wells, that played him, I realize Ricky is a fictional character), and I’m a fan of the Canadian comedy group. That’s how much range he has. I’ll also admit that I usually kind of sigh in a resigned way when I find out Sasha Grey is going to appear in a show or movie that I plan on seeing, but when she’s in a non-porn mainstream movie,  and not playing herself, I found I have no problem with her, at least in this movie (sorry guys, she keeps her clothes on). I didn’t even identify her as the actress playing the character until the credits rolled.** The only name in the cast I saw before watching the movie was Jeffrey Combs (and Brittany Snow, who I have a neutral enough opinion of that I didn’t think about one way or the other, or have it influence my decision to see the movie).  I didn’t even know Sasha Grey played the character until the credits ran, though I did recognize John Heard within a couple minutes after his character appeared.

I also applaud the film-makers for not turning the movie into torture-porn, which they could have very easily slipped into. I do think any kind of comparisons to Saw  (or the sequels, anyway) aren’t really that accurate. Certain moments did make me wince, but for the few really nasty challenges (especially two towards the end) the camera turns away during the actual (fairly quick) gruesome act; the most we see is some aftermath. I wouldn’t call the movie tame, but the poster being used below really doesn’t accurately represent the tone or subject matter of this horror movie:

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During the violent moments of Would You Rather,  I mainly winced in sympathy for the poor characters, especially the ones who had some compassion for their fellow contestants and opted to injure themself—or volunteer themselves if another participant was torn between who to inflict pain on. I’ve seen things much more gory (especially just for pure shock value) in any of the Saw movies. I’m not one of those horror fans who slams them as trash, in fact I own one of them. I’m not saying they don’t  linger on torture (which I feel started with Saw 3 and progressed, as the franchise went on, to more and more emphasis on the gore and topping themselves on how gruesome and shocking the traps/“kills” were), but I’m not above them, and I didn’t watch them for the believability, but for the Grand Guignol aspect. I’m not super-proud of it, but I’m also no hypocrite.  My point, however, is that Would You Rather  isn’t this kind of movie. I was rather surprised—but not at all dissapointed— that the level of gore in the movie was as low as it was for what sounds like a torture-porn set-up, but I’d say on a scale of one to ten, it was a six. I appreciated the way that, in the two gruesome moments I mentioned before—the camera flinched away at the same time a certain horrified character in the room did.  They didn’t want to look, we didn’t want to look.

I had a couple minor complaints, but they were minor enough that I had to re-watch the movie to remind myself what they actually were. There was a snotty young male character that not only didn’t really get what he deserved at all, but didn’t really seem that necessary to the plot, but don’t let that stop you. Even after I read the glowing review on DreadCentral.com, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie.

If you can appreciate a good indie horror movie with great production values (IFC Midnight picked this one up; if you have trouble tracking it down on demand, that’s the category I found it under), you can’t go wrong. You really can’t go wrong if you’re a fan of  Jeffrey Combs–his character “runs the show” in the story, but his acting is what makes the movie work– great as the other acting is, his was the role that, if cast wrong, could have actually ruined the movie or made it tedious instead of riveting. I can think of several genre actors, who I’ll be polite and not name, that could have sunk the movie instead of elevate it. Since he’s the one who organizes and relishes the ‘game’ (though he has security/enforcers on staff to do the dirty work, he just watches), we’re probably supposed to at least dislike him, but he was too entertaining.

Also, for what it’s worth, the poster art below is not only superior but much more fitting to represent Would You Rather:

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Hopefully this one will get used instead of the torture-porn-y eyeball image. Enjoy the movie! Check out the first Dread Central piece under the “Related Articles” at the bottom- it’s a wonderful interview about how the movie got made, the casting process (in the piece, Levy says the second he saw Jeffrey Comb’s reel, he knew he was the perfect actor for the lead; when he sent Combs the script, he returned it a day later, along with not just an acceptance note, but a thank you note;  a class act all the way).

Would You Rather?

 (Photo credit: Dave77459)

*OK, obviously they haven’t seen the trailer and read the synopsis or seen press kits, but you get the idea, and after the game officially begins, all bets are off.

**I actually thought there was a good chance it was the actress who played Dawn, Tig’s white-trash daughter on “Sons of Anarchy”.

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The Man Behind Nina Medieros And Mama- Javier Botet Interview (Shock Till You Drop Exclusive, 2009-[REC] and [REC]2 Spoilers)

On the second [REC 2], I had just a few scratches. I didn’t have a real hammer. When I have a real hammer, no one comes near me.

-Javier Botet, on swinging a hammer around in the dark on a movie set

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We’re still having trouble digging up a more recent interview with the man behind the monster mother in “Mama” and the [REC] series, so until then, Shock Till You Drop put up a great one you can check out, written by Ryan Turek.

HOWEVER! If you haven’t seen [REC] and [REC 2], you really, really should see them and then read this. There’s not a ton of spoilers for REC 2, but… oh, just see them, unless you don’t like extremely frightening movies. Either way, just avoid Quarantine  like, pardon the phrasing, the plague. We love Botet’s comments on the U.S. remake and agree 100% with everything he says– the same reasons Quarantine  pissed us off. OK, you get the idea. To read the interview, click on the big red link below…

Exclusive Interview: Rec & Rec 2’s Javier Botet –  Shock Till You Drop.

 

According to the interview, he was offered to reprise his role in the U.S. remake, though it would be “The Thin Infected Man” instead of “La Niña De Medieros”. The timing didn’t work out and the part went to Doug Jones instead. Talented as Jones is, no-one else could be as effective in the role …not even close. We saw Quarantine  in the theater and watched [REC]  at home on TV, in the daytime, and STILL had to open the curtains and turn the lights on halfway through. It’s not just Botet (though the movie would not be as memorable and nightmarish without him, and he’s a great, perfect show-stopper), the entire movie [REC] is fucking terrifying; by the time it roars to the end credits, you’ll probably be hugging your knees.

Enjoy the interview! The below is one of two BTS set photos we like to look at to lighten us up when we start to think about [REC] too close to bedtime…

Heh!

Heh!

 

Ten Juicy Snippets From Advance Reviews of Park Chan-Wook’s “Stoker” That Make Us Wish It Opened Tonight!

ARRRGH! Everything we read about Park’s English-language début, Stoker,  drives us crazier and crazier to see it!  If you’re as hopped-up to see it as much as we have been (check out our Top Ten Most Anticipated of 2013 list here – so far, three of the ten that we got to see were worth the wait), just check out these ten “blurbs” taken from reviews for press/reviewers that got to see advance screenings.

Copyright Celebquote.com

What a warm, nurturing mother “Evie” (Nicole Kidman) seems to be to her daughter India. (Copyright Celebquote.com)

As of this writing, Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 100% Fresh Rating, though obviously this could change. I doubt it’s going to stay that high, but you don’t start out with 100% Fresh (especially from advanced screenings) then suddenly plummet down to 41% the week right before the movie opens, so things are looking up.
This writer has read exactly one mixed review so far*, but no bad ones (and we read a LOT). Check out what these (trusted) critics have to say– I credited them and linked when I could so you could read the entire review if you’d like to. I had to quit collecting snippets after ten, due to almost getting ready to drool on my MacBook in anticipation. Wish it was in theaters now BUT IT DOESN’T OPEN TILL MARCH FIRST! GRRARRRG–OK, deep breaths, calm down here, if we waited over six months for The ABCs of Death  and at least four months for Mama ,  we can do it for this movie (not that we have a choice). Speaking of which, hey, if you get a chance to see an advance screening or premiere, it sounds like Stoker  is worth the wait in line or other pains in the ass you would have to endure to catch the movie early. Plus, we’re super-envious of you!  Do you have an extra pass? Can we be your best-est friend 4-Ever?

Meanwhile, check these ten yummy appetizers out!

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  • Working from a script by former Prison Break star Wentworth Miller, STOKER  feels like the work of someone intimately familiar with [that of]  Hitchcock’s  …although I wouldn’t go so far as to call this an all-out homage. The primary similarity is the young leading lady on the cusp of adulthood, mesmerized by her handsome, sophisticated, and murderous uncle….Mia Wasikowka’s India is far less a shrinking violet. Sometimes, the thing that’s most taboo and dangerous is the most attractive, and that’s an idea very much at the heart of STOKER.  (JoBlo.com, Movie News review by Chris Bumbray)
  • Park Chan-wook leaves the expected streaks of blood across American screens in Stoker,  his English-language début about a young woman whose coming of age takes place among the corpses of family members and neighbors. Fans who have followed the Korean auteur since 2003’s Oldboy  will not be disappointed, but a high creep-out factor and top-drawer cast also should attract genre fans who’ve never heard of him. (Hollywood Reporter, by John DeFore)
  • Tensions continue to rise, a disturbing love triangle begins to emerge, secrets are revealed to all and that’s when Stoker really goes into some wickedly weird and wonderfully twisted territory (and to say anything more would be giving away all the wonderful surprises director Park and screenwriter Miller have woven into this haunting coming of age tale) that should undoubtedly satisfy Park’s longtime fans out there who have been waiting patiently.   (‘TheHorrorChick’ for  Dread Central)
  •  In the many years that I have been coming to this Festival, not once have I ever seen a film that floored me enough to make me want to attend subsequent viewings.  I can say with certainty that Stoker  is to be the first to do this.  (www.heyuguys.co.uk/  Review by Ty Cooper )
  • Between the florid dialogue, gallows humor, all manner of sexual suggestion, Clint Mansell’s suitably peculiar score and another eye-catching collaboration with cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon, the world of “Stoker” is one of thoroughly, giddily heightened expression and tension… the result is a nervy, pervy Hitchcock riff in its own right.  (by William Goss  for Film.com)
  • I heard some people describe Stoker as a slow burn, but if you think this is a slow burn, then you must not understand much about behavior. So much happens in each scene, and by the time it explodes it’s glorious. Director Park Chan-wook, and it probably started with Wentworth Miller’s screenplay, crafts a fascinating study of how people behave. Mia cracks eggs to drown out funeral gossip, she draws a pattern in art class unphased by a harasser, rainwater drips on India’s shoes and forms a puddle, and did you notice how that naughty drawing paid off in the shower scene? (Reviewed by Fred Topel for CraveOnline)
  • [Devotees] will see something to relish in its mix of OTT violence and gallows humour: proof that Chan-wook’s appetite for disruption hasn’t been lost in translation. …Park Chan-wook brings operatic finesse to generic material in his tight-wound, wickedly weird US début. And Mia Wasikowska nails it. (Ken Harley, TotalFilm.com)
  • Start getting excited for an incredibly fun, yet perverse and, more importantly, powerful piece of work that awaits you come March 1, when this artful slice of insanity is unleashed upon screens worldwide. (Twitchfilm.com, reviewed by Sean Smithson)
  • …just because the film finds weight within its dramatic elements doesn’t mean horror fans will feel neglected. STOKER  has several disturbing scenes, one in particular for  featuring explicit violence that leads to one of the film’s most jaw-dropping revelations. (Fangoria.com – Ken Hanley)
  • Director Park also once again delivers a wonderfully mesmerizing visual masterpiece with cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon …[the reason] Stoker succeeds can be contributed to Park’s absolutely pristine attention to detail; from the stunning uses of lighting and costumes to the vivid and lush production design, every detail in the film felt purposeful and packed with emotion, demonstrating that Park’s impeccable attention to detail certainly hasn’t waned… Chung somehow manages to take even the simplest of shots – whether it be of a very awkward family dinner or blades of tall grass glistening in the glow of a setting sun, or even a small child making sand angels with an unusually devilish smile upon his face – and make them all feel like a works of art brought to life on the big screen. (The Horror Chick, Dreadcentral.com)

 

At least one clip from Stoker has been officially released, look for it to be posted here soon. And yup, it’s the monologue leading up to the currently notorious  “I can’t wait to see life tear you apart.” line from Kidman’s frost-bitten cu awful bitch of a mother to her daughter (Mia Wasikowska)**. That font color is supposed to represent icy-blue cold, by the way.

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*We won’t name the reviewer, but we’re pretty sure he was expecting another Old Boy, and didn’t seem to care much for the “overly styled” cinematography. Yeah, yeah, whatever. Didn’t really dampen Mrs. Horror Boom’s enthusiasm too much.

**That font color is supposed to represent an icy-blue cold, by the way.

Contrary to this still from the movie, it’s not what it looks like; there are no ghostly vengeful female spirits – just human monsters.

More “Stoker” Coolness! We LOVE Horror Marketing Going Above & Beyond With Awesome, Creative Promos – Must See!

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We first decided our dream job (on up there in the top five) would be getting to work for/with Dread Central and getting things like THIS in the mail back in 2011 when DC posted a series on the “American Horror Story Artifacts” they were receiving in the mail (for S1). These artifacts, which Dread Central carefully documented with a series of still photos, descriptions, and the story behind these packages sent to them with no return address info other than “The Murder House”. One was an ice-skate, splattered with dried blood and a clump of red matter on the blade of the skate…  matted with hair. Another was a stuffed rabbit. Nothing cuddly, though, something that looked like it came from a deranged taxidermist (or a doctor from the 1920s with a ‘Frankenstein complex‘ who had been driven mad by his addiction to ether).  This was s stuffed, mounted monstrosity with tanned/cured blood-red hide, no hair, buck teeth that looked more like those of a small shark’s,  and disturbingly over-sized, bloodshot eyeballs. This writer–who is working on a piece* about that showstopper of an advertising campaign– would not display it in any room she planned on sleeping in.

We also have yet to see a shitty movie (ParaNorman and District 9 are a couple of excellent examples on going above and beyond to promote something they created)* that took such care and cleverness and craftsmanship sending out really cool boxes (usually mysterious at first) containing items, art, and ‘artifacts’.

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So, what does our above  jibba-jabba have to do with this? Turns out Stoker  (unleashed released on March 1, 2013) has also been doing creative promotion! Here’s an (updated) article from Dread Central about exactly what showed up in their mail to promote their movie. Click on the big red link below to read all about it–and even try to figure out why and how the PR/marketing team for Stoker  picked this specific item!

UPDATED: What’s in the Box?!? Mystery and Intrigue Arrive at Dread Central! | Horror Movie, DVD, & Book Reviews, News, Interviews at Dread Central.

 

Your guess is sure as hell as good as ours! Man, what we wouldn’t give to work in an office that receives and gets to open packages like this. Hell, we’d fucking volunteer  to work our butts off there for free if they were located anywhere near us…

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*which, now that we think of it,  are also separate pieces we’ll do a short series on …or a longer series if we find there’s even more genre movies, TV shows and events that use such imaginative marketing than we thought out there (cross your fingers).

Grave Encounters 2 is Available On Demand 10/2/12 – New ‘Leaked Clip’ and More!

Well, a clip has been released leaked from Grave Encounters 2;   our friends at Dread Central have the article and the clip that arrived mysteriously in their email inbox from someone with the username DeathAwaits.  Hmmm, that sounds familiar, the kind of username that would be in a press kit… let’s see here.

Click here for the full story (and the same clip) on DreadCentral.Com!

That’s strange. He looks as though he may have a bloodshot eye… or is that actual blood in the inner corner?

I wish I had some reviews to link to, but none of the IMDB links work at the time of this writing; they all take me to an error page of some kind. I hope that’s some kind of creative marketing gimmick and not because they ordered all the less-than-positive advance reviews pulled. I think they’ll be positive, though (I trust Uncle Creepy here). Actually, I don’t even know if they could do that (have reviews pulled, that is), so I guess I might actually have to go into a movie clean for once! I don’t have the kind of willpower to avoid reviews of a movie I’ve been excited about for months, even if it’s going to be available to watch in 48 hours.

However, Back To The Movies has posted an exclusive interview (audio) with the director of Grave Encounters 2,  John Poloquin:

Oooo, prosthetics! I’m sure certain shots couldn’t be done without CGI, but I’m really happy they are using practical effects whenever possible. That’s all the new info I’ve got for you for Grave Encounters 2  as of this writing.  However, in anticipation of the On Demand premiere being around the corner, I do have a little ‘photo gallery’ from the original  Grave Encounters  (2011)!  I snapped them the last time I rented it and watched on our flat screen*, and turned the closed captions on (otherwise they wouldn’t be very interesting). I do NOT own the copyrights to any of these images,  I’m posting them here for entertainment purposes only (I’ve got a full disclaimer about copyright issues on this page to cover my ass). If you haven’t seen Grave Encounters  yet, and plan to, you might want to skip the gallery, because several are spoilers as to the fate of certain characters …and BIG jump moments …especially towards the end.

You’d be surprised how many of the shots I took have this exact closed caption. I love how there’s about eight exclamation points, in case the viewer might not get the idea…

I seemed to get a lot of those. I could put up ten photos from different scenes in the movie, and the captions would all be:  [screams] Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!   We see plenty of scream-worthy things in Grave Encounters,  but I ended up capturing an equal number of verbal reactions, some of which didn’t have any distinct image to go with them like the shot above. Example:

And here’s about as minimalist as those shots get for you:

Well,  the below “Aaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!!!!”  is  in color. Shout out to the top commenter on my Grave Encounters -themed pieces,”Lobotomy Jack” — I bet you can tell which scene this is from!  (10/1 update: he could)

Well, at least that one’s in color. I seriously could put up a dozen of them (plus, the CCs use the caption “Raaaaaar!” for several scary creatures shrieking/roaring).  There’s also a bunch that are captioned with very realistic reactions (I know I’d be yelling the same things at the top of my lungs in their situation at some points):

And I’d be saying/yelling THIS more or less non-stop if I was trapped in that fucking hell-hole:

OK, I’ll get to the gallery/slideshow (however you want to view it) now. I basically picked the shots that were most memorable, as well as lines that strongly evoke the spirit (so to speak) of the movie– the reason why it haunts many of us devoted Grave Encounters  fans. Here we go…

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Is it Tuesday yet?

*As I often do with really cool horror movies, especially if I’m going to write about them. If I’m too tired, taking notes isn’t always fast enough for my horrible short-term memory and ADD, so I get out the camera. The bonus is, though, cool pics for postings and galleries!