Truth or Dare

Review by Elena Lazic @elazic

Directed by

Jeff Wadlow

Starring

Lucy Hale Tyler Posey

Anticipation.

Doesn’t look very good, but could be a lot of fun.

Enjoyment.

The insanity of the low stakes almost makes up for the lack of gore.

In Retrospect.

A fun, dumb, soon to be forgotten time at the movies.

A cursed version of everyone’s least favourite party game causes havoc for some teens in Blumhouse’s latest horror offering.

The premise of Truth or Dare, Blumhouse’s tentpole release this Friday the 13th, is exactly what you’d expect: a game of truth or dare that isn’t just embarrassing, but also deadly. To find anyone who likes the game that inspired the film would be a challenge, and not even the dumbest of college students would be offended if anyone decided not to play. Thus there is already something very funny and terribly ill-thought-out about having the notion of backing out of the game be the thing that kills you.

And yet, this is exactly how the first death in the film plays out. At a student bar, a pretty girl that a college bro wants to impress dares him to climb on a pool table and show his penis to all attendees. Bro climbs up, only to back out in a cloud of second-hand embarrassment, confusion and exasperation, before suddenly falling off the pool table, breaking his neck.

Is this really the best horror movie that could have been made based on this very dangerous game? Hell no. The Final Destination-esque thrills and gore than this film really should have been bursting with are all but absent. As unbelievable as it made sound, Truth or Dare is more interested in the sentimental drama that the game generates than in its murderous potential, even when said game is also brutally killing people.

The tensions that boil between the group of friends at the centre of the film are set up very early on. Do-gooder Olivia (Lucy Hale) clearly has a thing for Lucas (Tyler Posey), who is actually dating Markie (Violett Beane) who is Olivia’s best friend (OMG). On their last ever spring break in Mexico, the gang meet a charming young man who invites them over to a menacing deserted castle where they proceed to have some beers and, at long last, play the game of the title. Out of the blue, friend/foe Tyson (Nolan Gerard Funk, from The Canyons) asks Olivia to tell the truth about her feelings for Lucas. The horror! But no, no one dies just yet. Moving on…

Back in the US, the kids start getting visions of people with distorted smiles — “like a messed-up Snapchat filter”, as Olivia so brilliantly puts it — telling them “truth or dare”. And this is how Olivia, picking “truth”, ends up screaming about Markie’s infidelity in the library… in front of a mortified Lucas. EPIC FAIL.

Even once the kids begin understanding what is happening and attempt to repel the Mexican curse, both the characters and the film itself remain inordinately concerned with the petty drama of their tiny, tiny lives. Truth or Dare is interesting for how it totally misses the mark on why teens in slasher films are so often despicable, self-obsessed pricks: to provide the satisfaction of watching them be killed off one by one by a creature who has no regards for their feelings and concerns. As such, though the film provides none of the thrills expected, it is undeniably amusing — if only in an absurd, utterly mind-boggling way.

Published 14 Apr 2018

Anticipation.

Doesn’t look very good, but could be a lot of fun.

Enjoyment.

The insanity of the low stakes almost makes up for the lack of gore.

In Retrospect.

A fun, dumb, soon to be forgotten time at the movies.

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