A Mansion Full of Archetypes Gamble Lives In Would You Rather

A suspense thriller for the 99 percent, David Guy Levy's Would You Rather pits a shadowy blue blood against a group of hapless proles whose financial desperation the aristocrat toys with like a cat batting around its not-quite-dead prey. It's easy to root for semi-horror movies of this sort when they're clearly made on a dime by a writer-director with as much of an aversion toward needless gore and cheap scares as most moviegoers, but it doesn't help that the premise—in which a mansion full of archetypes agree to play a game without realizing its life-or-death stakes—brings to mind everything from And Then There Were None to Clue. (Porn star–turned-actress Sasha Grey is among the cannon fodder, but she's rarely given the chance to flaunt the genuine acting abilities she displayed in The Girlfriend Experience so much as look callously amused by the cruelty she both inflicts and observes.) Unfolding largely in real time, the film gets credit for its ability to keep us guessing early on but eventually reveals that where it's going is nowhere near as interesting as where it might have; there's no real wisdom (or even outrage) to be found in Levy's dissection of how quickly we revert to animal instinct and turn on one another once the cards are down. Would You Rather verges on genuine intrigue at times, but it's ultimately just a slasher without the gore—same flimsy moralism, same runny-mascaraed heroine realizing the only way out of the muck is to wade through it.

 
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