WOW!! This is one of the most intense films I have seen in some time.
Jeffery Combs is at the top of his form in this powerful psychological torture movie.
He plays Shepard Lambrick, the director of a large and wealthy foundation with a reputation for enormous charitable contributions. In the opening scene, he approaches a young woman named Iris (Brittany Snow), whose brother is dying of leukemia and desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. She is his sole living relative, and their house is for sale while she desperately seeks a job. Lambrick offers her a chance to have her brother's surgery performed and all of their financial needs taken care of - if she will come to his house along with a few other contestants and "play a little game" to see who will be the recipient of the foundation's largesse.
Eight contestants meet around the dinner table as Lambrick prepared to begin the game. Over dinner, he discovers that Iris is a vegetarian - so he offers her $10,000 if she will eat a steak and some pate de fois gras that is served with it. Then he turns to another one of the contestants, an older gentleman, and finds out that he is a recovering alcoholic - and offers him $50,000 dollars to drain an entire carafe of Scotch. Then, after dinner, the contestants are given a one-time chance to leave before the real game begins. No one does.
That is when the movie steers into nightmare territory. Combs, of course, is a psychopath. Brilliant, charming, and functional - but utterly devoid of compassion. The game is a souped up version of the old teenage standby, "Would you rather . . ." - but the choices are increasing Faustian. At first, the contestants are given a choice between hurting themselves or one another. But, as the game progresses, the choices given become more and more malicious, until only one contestant remains . . .
This is a powerful and deeply disturbing film. The performances are solid all the way around, and porn star Sasha Grey is surprisingly effective in her role as the troubled, malicious young contestant named Amy. If taut psychological thrillers are your thing, you will like this film.