Movie Review: Truth or Dare

The producer of Get Out misses the mark with a spring break horror tale

Truth or Dare
Directed by Jeff Wadlow
With Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Landon Liboiron

The independent studio Blumhouse, led by producer Jason Blum, has made several successful low-budget horror flicks, but stumbles badly with Truth or Dare.

The same company that gave us the Oscar-winning Get Out and both the Purge and Insidious series should have seen from the start that the concept behind Truth or Dare simply lacked the basic elements for ignition.

Everything in the film is just too familiar, and none of it adds up to any scares or suspense, save for possibly the end — if anyone still cares about the characters by that point.

College students go together to Mexico for one last spring break before they have to face adulthood. There are tensions among the group. Olivia (played by Lucy Hale) had planned to spend the break doing social work, but her best friend, Markie (Violett Beane), cancels that with a fake email and drags her to Mexico. Markie’s boyfriend, Lucas (Tyler Posey) and several others also take the trip.

Most horror films have a point where any sane person would just say, “No, I am not going into the basement alone.” They key to a good horror film is somehow pushing the audience past that and into accepting the plot. The recent Blumhouse film Get Out even addresses that idea in its title.

In Truth or Dare, Olivia meets a guy at a bar and he tells them all about a cool place to get another drink at the end of the evening. Soon, the whole crew is hiking up a cliff in the dark, past actual warning signs, and toward a collapsing spooky mansion that in no way resembled the cool nightclub that was promised. Remember, they are with a complete stranger in a foreign country that is known for violent crime and kidnappings.

The rest of the set up for the plot continues to be utterly unconvincing and unengaging. But it revolves around the once popular game called truth or dare, where people take turns either admitting some secret or doing some embarrassing action the rest of the group suggests.

One of the characters points out a big flaw in the film. Some evil force is at work, and when it is time for someone to take their turn, other peoples’ faces become distorted into weird grins. A character compares this to everyone looking like they had a Snapchat filter applied to them.

And the supposedly scary scenes are just about as frightening as checking out your friends’ latest Snaps.

The recent horror film The Snowman, based on a novel by Jo Nesbø, had a similar problem. Snowmen just aren’t scary.

The whole second act is a quite repetitive cycle of truths and dares, and get worse when the filmmakers change the rules of the game partway through. The explanation the audience finally gets for what is happening raises far more questions than it answers, and doesn’t help with the film’s credibility.

There are a few flashes of cleverness in the end that unexpectedly bring several plot threads together. But this is not enough to justify the tedium that preceded it.

Most of the cast is known for appearances in TV series. Lucy Hale, famous for Pretty Little Liars, stands out against mostly mediocre support from the rest.

Hayden Szeto also makes an impression as a gay character trying to keep his orientation a secret, but in a film called Truth or Dare, it is clear where his plot arc is headed.

Hopefully Blumhouse will learn from this mess that they need to stick to solid and original ideas, and that pushing out generic trash will hurt their brand name. That is the truth anyway, but will they dare to listen?

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