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Film / Would You Rather

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The Fancy Dinner from hell.

A 2012 horror film directed by David Guy Levy, starring Brittany Snow (who also co-executive produced), Jeffrey Combs, John Heard, Enver Gjokaj, Sasha Grey, and Robin Lord Taylor.

Unemployed, cash-strapped, and with terminally-ill brother Raleigh in need of a bone marrow transplant, Iris (Snow) accepts a dinner invitation from mysterious rich guy Shepard Lambrick (Combs) to compete for the financial aid they desperately need. It turns out that the titular game forces each participant to choose from one of two increasingly unpleasant choices.


This film provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Conway is a recovered alcoholic, but Lambrick challenges him to drink a glass of wine for $10,000... or an entire decanter of top-shelf Scotch in exchange for $50,000. Conway chooses the scotch and downs all of it, but it turns out he's quite an angry drunk, resulting in him being killed for refusing to cooperate and continue playing.
  • All for Nothing: Iris wins, but it doesn’t matter because she goes home to find her brother has killed himself. Also, during the game itself, when it comes down to just Iris and Lucas, Iris wins the coin toss to go first, and the choice is either to kill Lucas and win the game, or spare him and they both walk away empty handed, but alive. So Lucas, after splitting his own eye with a razor-blade, could never have won the game after losing a simple coin toss.
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  • And You Thought It Was a Game: Everyone realizes this around the time that Conway attempts to leave the party - and is shot dead.
  • Attempted Rape: At one point, Iris tries to escape only to be cornered in the basement and attacked by Lambrick's son Julian.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Julian, Lambrick's psychotic and hyperactive son. Of course, while more subtlety than him, Lambrick is also this.
    • Amy. She gleefully electrocutes Linda, who's just an old lady, and asks if she can stab Iris anywhere when she was given the chance to stab her, even though Iris did nothing towards her.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Shep, Bevans, and Julian get to have their fun, and are not seriously inconvenienced by just about anything that occurs in the film. Our 'heroine,' (who by the end of the film has murdered a completely innocent man in cold blood) wins a completely hollow prize because her brother has killed himself, and she is now unable to incriminate the Lambricks in anything because she would have to admit she herself murdered somebody to win the game when she didn't need to. Oh, and the man who sent her there and then had a change of heart and tried to rescue her, (after having won the game himself in the past) is murdered by Bevans without much of a fight. And it's all but certain the Lambricks will do this all again to another group of people.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Dr. Barden shows up just in time to stop Julian's Attempted Rape of Iris. Subverted when Bevan shoots him dead.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Lambrick at first looks like a suave and affable philanthropist willing to help people who absolutely need money. In truth, he's a sadist and overly evil man who likes to toy with people and relish in their misery.
  • Black Comedy: The moment when Lambrick tells Bevans "Maybe next year," in regards to Iris not choosing her card which would have had all her teeth pulled. The little shrug Bevans gives in regards to his disappointment is a much needed moment of levity after quite a dark movie.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Dr. Barden's fate.
  • Break the Cutie: Iris. She is put through the psychological torture of watching the other "players" gruesomely suffer, she’s electrocuted, has to beat Travis, wounded in her side by an ice pick by Amy, punched and almost raped by Julian, held underwater for 2 minutes and nearly drowned, watches several people die, remorsefully shoots Lucas dead, and returns home to find her brother dead from suicide. By the end of the story she’s an emotionally crippled woman haunted for the rest of her life knowing she killed Lucas and suffered all of the above completely for nothing.
  • Break the Haughty: Poor Travis. He starts out as a creepy Jerkass character with a terrifying stare. But after he stands up to Julian and punished for it, he crumbles and is reduced to a sobbing mess after recieving several brutal lashes and begging to know what he did to deserve this over an entire round of the game.
  • Broken Bird: Amy, as a result of her child having been killed in the past.
  • The Chessmaster: Shepard Lambrick, who uses this ability to its full extent over the course of the game.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Iris wins, only to return home to find that her brother Raleigh, who she did this for, has committed suicide.
  • Deadly Game: The entire premise is a high stakes, horrible game of Would You Rather.
  • Dirty Coward: Julian is all high and mighty when his dad controls the situation. But when the guests try to turn the table on them, he hides under the table like a complete coward.
  • Downer Ending: Iris, having survived until the end, is told that a donor has been provided for Raleigh... only for her to return home and find that Raleigh has committed suicide. The only silver lining is she does still have a fortune on her hands that is more than enough for her to go back to university, though she obviously wouldn't be too focused on that.
  • Driven to Suicide: Raleigh, feeling that his illness has made him a burden on his sister Iris, kills himself, having no clue about the near-literal hell she puts herself through at Lambrick’s for him.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Amy. Her sullen, sarcastic behavior borders on the Gloomy Goth archtype.
  • Electric Torture: An early round of the game involves delivering an electric shock to either yourself, or the person sitting next to you.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: After Julian tries to rape Iris, Shep mentions that ever since his mother died, he "lacks restraint".
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When the contestants are recaptured after an attempted escape, Lambrick takes a moment to give Iris a heartfelt apology for Julian attempting to rape her in the basement.
  • Eye Scream: One of Lucas' options is to slice his own eyeball open, as depicted in one of the movie posters. He does.
  • Evil All Along: Shep appears as a good guy, using his wealth to help the less fortunate with their money problems. It's all just a sham; he's just luring in poor people to kill themselves for his entertainment.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The elder Lambrick acts polite at first to the "contestants" but quickly reveals he sees them as less than people who only exist for his amusement.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early on in the movie, Raleigh makes a passing comment that Iris cannot always be a hero and she needs to learn to let go, which upsets her. This is a subtle hint to the movie's ending where Raleigh commits suicide despite Iris going through a night of hell for him.
    • At dinner, Lambrick learns Iris is a vegetarian, and offers her ten grand to eat a steak and compromise her principles. She reluctantly does so. At the end of the film, Iris’s final choice is to either shoot Lucas dead in cold-blood or let him live, at the cost of both of them walking away empty-handed. Iris does it.
    • In addition to the above, Lambrick essentially foreshadows the coming game as he offers Iris ten grand to cast her self-control and beliefs aside to eat the ribeye and fois gras, then laughs while mocking her for sacrificing her principles for money. Guess what the rest of the movie involves him doing.
  • For the Evulz: Lambrick has no reason to force people to pick equally cruel choices that will harm themselves and/or other innocent victims. He just loves to see them suffer.
  • Hate Sink: Julian. In contrast to his Faux Affably Evil father, he's openly cruel to the contestants, referring to them as "pigs" and making light of their situation. There's also his Attempted Rape of Iris.
    • Shep is not much better. While more "polite" than his son he's still a deranged man who loves to put innocent people through hellish tasks for the only reason to amuse himself. It's also implied that he did this for a very long time.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose:
    • Amy gets this near the end of the film when on her third round, she has to either hold her breath for two minutes in a barrel full of water or, as shown in her envelope, hold her breath for four minutes in a barrel full of water. She ends up choosing the envelope, unaware that she would have to hold her breath twice as long, and drowns as a result.
    • Cruelly played straight for Lucas during the final round as he has to sit while losing a coin toss he had no influence on and his fate is left up to Iris to decide: either she spares him but they walk away with nothing, trivializing most everything they had went through given they all had a reason in taking Lambrick's offer, or she kills him and takes the money. Effectively, he lost any chance for a good outcome once the final round started.
  • Hidden Depths: For most of the movie, Amy is shown to be a cruel and coldhearted survivalist who is willing to do whatever she has to do to win. By the end however we get a brief look into her backstory when Shepard mentions how her husband had drowned their daughter.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Early on, Shep Lambrick scolds Julian for his unethical behavior at a previous "game", telling him that they are supposed to let events unfold without getting involved. Later, however, Shep shoots and kills one of the contestants.
    • He also offers the contestants the chance to just leave and not play the game, but he does this only before the true nature of the game becomes clear.
    • In addition to being fatal for most of the participants, it also becomes clear that the game itself isn't even fair. It's heavily implied that Julian somehow rigged the game to make Travis suffer in particular, and Lucas loses his chance to win the game because he lost a coin toss where he didn't even get call which side it would land on for himself, and is arbitrarily eliminated. Shep acting like he's giving everyone at the table a fair shot at winning is complete horseshit.
  • I Have a Family: Invoked by Lucas when he and Iris are the last contestants, and Iris's choice is either they both walk out empty-handed, or she shoots him and wins the game. Rather, attempted to invoke, as he barely gets out much before Iris kills him mid-sentence.
  • Jerkass: Even before he starts having the contestants torture each other, Shepard reveals himself to be a complete asshole. He offers vegetarian Iris and recovering alcoholic Conway money to consume meat and alcohol respectively, knowing full well that both of them are financially struggling and in no position to turn down the offer. To add insult to injury, he laughs at both of them and mocks how easily they gave in.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: While Shepard is shown to be rather generous with his money, this is never presented in a positive light. When Conway initially tells him that his alcoholism is none of his business, Lambrick contemptuously says that it is his business because Conway is there "begging [him] for money." This in spite of the fact that Lambrick invited him and the other guests. Throughout the film, the audience is never encouraged to see his generosity as anything more than using his wealth to take advantage of vulnerable people for his own amusement, and it's readily apparent that he sees the less fortunate as beneath him.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Iris by the end of the movie, as she becomes willing to commit murder in order to get what she wants.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Peter, a gambler, thinks he has outsmarted Lambrick when, given the choice between having your head held underwater for two minutes or chancing what's in a sealed envelope, he explains why the envelope is the safe bet. In fact, the envelope choice is to have a firecracker explode in your hand. Unfortunately for Peter, the "firecracker" in question is a massive M-80 duct-taped to his hand - most of which he loses in the explosion.
    • This is arguably the whole point of this particular segment of the game. Every envelope is something worse than the two minutes in the barrel, even Iris's. (Who didn't open hers)
  • Karma Houdini: Shep Lambrick gets away with his sadistic "games" and presumably continues to host them. While Julian gets stabbed in the leg, he still largely gets off without any punishment, although it is likely that his father punished him after the game.
  • Lack of Empathy: Lambrick, all the time. His only concern is to play his game for his own entertainment, uncaring of all the pain and trauma he gives to his "guests". When his son Julian is stabbed in the leg he's angry at him for having interrupt the game. At the end after Iris wins by very remorsefully killing Lucas, Lambrick keeps his word by giving her the money but the fact that Iris will have to live with the guilt and trauma all her life leaves him totally unfazed. In fact, it makes him very happy.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Iris murders Lucas, who helped to save her life earlier, to win the game and the money. She goes home to find her terminally sick brother has committed suicide, making her choice and suffering utterly pointless.
  • Last Chance to Quit: After explaining the rules of the game, Lambrick gives the guests this option. Once the game actually starts, the deal is off the table.
  • Meat Versus Veggies: When the main course of foie gras and prime rib arrives at the table, Iris politely informs Lambrick that she's a vegetarian. Lambrick, in turn, offers her $10,000 in cash to break her veggie ways. After a moment's hesitation, she does.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Raleigh's physician, Dr. Barden, is the one who introduces Iris to Lambrick - despite having misgivings. Eventually he has enough of a change of heart to grab a gun and infiltrate Lambrick's mansion in an attempt to save her. It doesn’t end well for him, though...
    • Iris seems to go through this upon winning the game by shooting Lucas, screaming in anguish at what she succumbed to while Lambrick and Bevans celebrates her victory. By the end, she's so shell-shocked that she hardly can muster up a thank you at Lambrick's insistence.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: Despite being huge sadists, the bad guys qualify. Bevans is the most calm and affable one of the trio. Julian is a big Jerkass towards the contestants and even tries to rape one of them, and Shep, though the most evil one, can pull a huge Faux Affably Evil personality towards the contestants while laughing at their misery.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Iris is stabbed with an ice pick in the chest, but this injury never comes up for the rest of the movie, despite this kind of injury specifically killing Linda by bleeding her out just earlier.
  • Parental Abandonment: Iris’s and Raleigh’s parents died before the events of the movie, which is the reason why Iris is the only family left to care for the terminally ill Raleigh. Which just makes the ending even more devastating.
  • Pet the Dog: As horrible as he is, Lambrick does this a few times throughout the movie.
    • He gives Iris a genuine heartfelt apology after his son tried to rape her.
    • Tells Peter if the "firecracker" taped to his hand turns out to be a dud, he won't force him to do the dare again.
    • Actually does honor his bargain to whoever wins the game.
    • Considering the "sick fuck" Lambrick truly is, with the possible exception of the first moment, his humanity moments are either him being Faux Affably Evil or as mentioned above, a Hypocrite. It's quite unlikely these are genuine moral standards.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Iris wins the game, along with Raleigh's bone-marrow treatment and enough cash to get out of debt. But when she returns home, she finds that he has committed suicide rather than continue to be a burden on her...
  • Sadist: The Lambrick’s and their manservant Bevans relish the suffering of their guests, and it is all but stated they do things like this all the time.
  • Serial Killer: Shep Lambrick is of the hedonistic variety, with a bit of the power/control type thrown in. He forces desperate people to murder each other and maim themselves for his own entertainment.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Travis, mentioned in passing but not elaborated upon - unless you count the game rounds when one of the choices is to inflict greater and greater levels of torture on him.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Iris goes through all of this Hell to help find money for her ill brother's treatment. She wins and returns home to find that her brother has committed suicide.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The entire "game" is about showcasing that Every Man Has His Price, and will violate every ideal they hold if given the right offer.
  • Smug Snake: Julian. What really drives this home is the fact that he cowers and hides under the table when the guests attempt to turn the tables on Lambrick and his mooks.
  • Spoiled Brat: Julian Lambrick often gives the impression of being a snotty child, as he uses his status as Lambrick's son in order to torment the guests that have wronged him. And he attempts to rape Iris, which gets him kicked out of the game.
  • Suicide by Pills: How Raleigh kills himself at the end of the film, making all of Iris's suffering all for naught.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Averted. Iris chooses to have her head dunked underwater, and it is stated that had she chosen the envelope, she'd have had all her teeth pulled (Bevan appears quite sad at this news, but is assured "maybe next time" by Lambrick).
  • Torture Technician: Bevans has a lot of gadgets left over from his time in MI-5, which come in handy for Shep’s twisted game.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Julian disappears from the movie after Bevans catches him trying to rape Iris during her escape from the basement. She stabs him in the leg with an ice pick and he is apparently taken to his room to sit out the rest of the game. He isn't seen again. Travis's ultimate fate is also unconfirmed after he's taken out of the game from being whipped so many times that he has passed out. It's more than likely however that he didn't survive.