Release: April 13, 2018
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Screenplay: Michael Reisz, Jillian Jacobs, Chris Roach, Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Lucy Hale as Olivia Barron, Tyler Posey as Lucas Moreno, Violett Beane as Markie Cameron, Hayden Szeto as Brad Chang
Running Time: 100 minutes
A group of irritating college aged bobble heads decide to take a trip to Mexico for spring break. At a bar, Olivia meets a guy calling himself Carter. He entices Olivia and her friends to go with him to an old, desolate church where he persuades the gang to play a game of truth or dare. Upon taking his turn, Carter picks truth and spills the beans to the gang about why he insisted they play a kiddie sleepover game with him. He and his friends had played truth or dare in the same church and their game (yes, the game of truth or dare, you read that correctly) was possessed by a demon called Calix. When the group return to the states, the game stalks them (I feel stupid just typing that) and one by one, as they refuse to complete dares or reveal embarrassing truths, they are killed off. Lucas tracks down the old nun who summoned the demon in an effort to deal with a perverse priest, and she gives he and Olivia a ritual that can bind the demon. The demon had formerly been imprisoned in a jar (like an insect in a child’s room), but “Carter” broke the jar, freeing the demon. The binding ritual,however, can only be completed by the one who freed the demon from its trap. The group, now down to a trio of Olivia, Markie, and Lucas, capture “Carter” and take him back to the church in Mexico. At gunpoint, they force him to read the incantation given to him by the old woman, and to cut out his own tongue. Before the ritual can be completed, the demon takes possession of Lucas, kills “Carter” and himself, and then gloats to Olivia and Markie that they will now be unable to end the game. Olivia records a video and hastily posts it on her youtube channel issuing a blanket truth or dare challenge to anyone watching, somehow effectively roping many more people into the game.
With its hammy acting, dingy Denis Villeneuve colour palette, frankly stupid premise, and horrid script, Truth or Dare is an ugly and bad film. It’s a bad film made far far worse by its producers’ committing one of the worst blunders any horror filmmaker can commit, seeking a PG-13 rating. Splatter horror is replete with visual ugliness, dumb premises, as well as acting and scripting that make the average high concept porn flick look like Das Boot, but what saves these flicks, what sells these flicks to the audience is the gore (I think I’ve said this before). No one goes into a Friday the 13th picture expecting The Omen, no one goes into a Wes Craven picture expecting Orson Welles. We go for the creative methods of execution, the fountains of fake blood, and the piles of artificial viscera. They call us gorehounds for a reason. Like the demon at its center, Truth or Dare wears a skin that conceals its true nature. Yes, it classified as a supernatural horror film, but it can’t hide what it really is, a botched slasher flick. With an R-rating it could possibly have been a decent one. Instead, because Blumhouse sought the PG-13 rating, we get a suicide by gunshot with no brain matter or blood, a self-inflicted mutilation with no bodily carnage of any kind, a metal pen hammered into an eye socket with no visible result, and other little missteps. What we’re left with is a supernatural horror flick with absolutely no atmosphere, no overriding sense of dread, nothing that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. At the end of it, there is absolutely nothing to be had by watching Truth or Dare. No scares, no gore, nothing. Nothing but the feeling that you just wasted an hour and forty minutes of your life that could have been better spent playing a video game, learning a skill, writing a book (or a bad review on a website), watching a much better horror flick, or literally anything else under the yellow sun.