“When all of you were deciding whether or not to accept our invitation to play the game, you were, in essence, making a choice between the known and the unknown. You could continue to deal with your problems, the known, or possibly solve your problems in the unknown, our game.”
Released in 2013, this is by far one of my favorite hidden gems on Netflix. I happened upon this movie one night while at my sister’s house, and it has became a Netflix favorite for me since. It is my go to movie when my friends and I can’t think of a fun horror film to watch. It’s not going to be the best horror film you’ve ever seen, but if you like anything similar to Saw, Hostel, or really anything with a torture porn feel, you’ll at least respect this.
Starting out we meet protagonist Iris, portrayed by Brittany Snow. She’s down on her luck, trying to find a job anywhere to help take care of her little brother. We learn early on that her parents died in a car accident, and her brother is very sick in need of a bone marrow transplant. In a meeting with his doctor, Lawrence Gillard Jr., about the options they have, we are also introduced to Shepard Lambrick, Jeffrey Combs. Lambrick tells Iris that he has the means to help her and her brother, and all she has to do is attend a dinner party at his house the following evening. If she does this, he can pay off all of her medical debt, and find a suitable bone marrow match for her brother, and even skip all waiting lists. Skeptical, Iris asks Dr. Barden if this is legit, because I agree, it is kind of shady that a man you’ve never met is willing to do all of this in exchange for a dinner party. Iris decides to take the evening to think it over.
Later in the evening, Iris receives a call informing her that she didn’t get the job she was interviewing for in the opening sequence. Desperate, she calls and accepts the invitation to Shepard’s dinner party. Arriving at the house, we meet the rest of the cast and learn that there will be a ‘game’ to determine who wins the money. Everything starts out fine, a semi-formal dinner party with good food and service, and most of the other ‘contestants’ seem nice enough.Trouble arises when Iris informs Lambrick that she is a vegetarian and doesn’t eat meat. He offers her ten thousand dollars to eat the steak and liver on her plate, which she reluctantly accepts. Let the games begin. From here on out, things get messy–literally. He challenges the group’s morals and integrity in a twisted game of would you rather. Some of the challenges include slicing open an eye, shocking each other, and basically drowning people. There’s so much more, and I love it. I think it is such a good example of what desperate people will do to get the help that they need.
Jeffrey Combs gives an amazing performance of the sadistic ring leader of the game. He is unapologetically cruel and comfortable with what he is doing. He is funny and carefree. He loves seeing the group squirm, and he isn’t afraid to invoke violence on those who need it. Brittany Snow gives a warming performance of Iris, the naive girl who will do anything to help her brother. The rest of the cast is memorable, some more than others–I’m looking at you Enver Gjokaj. Some of the acting among other cast members isn’t great, but overall I think Combs and Snow do a good enough job on their own.
You will care about the characters, you will want to cover your eyes, and you’ll gasp at the ending. You won’t be able to help but love Shepard Lambrick and his twisted mind. This won’t be a movie that wins any awards, and most people might not enjoy it as much as I do, but as far as Netflix films go, I think it’s worth the watch. Every so often you stumble across a good one, and this is it for me.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Trailer: Would You Rather