Directed by Jeff Wadlow and produced by Blumhouse Productions (they brought us Split, Get Out and Happy Death Day), Truth or Dare is a supernatural horror film inspired by the popular game of the same name—and six friends from college are about to become the players.
We are introduced to the lead character, Olivia Barron (Lucy Hale), who is the stereotypical “good girl”. Persuaded by her best friend Markie (Violett Beane), Olivia joins her, her boyfriend Lucas (Tyler Posey), and the rest of their friends (played by Sophia Ali, Hayden Szeto and Nolan Funk) on their spring break trip to Mexico. On their last night there Olivia meets Carter (Landon Liboiron), a strange guy at a bar who convinces the group to carry on partying at the ruins of an old mission.
While at this cliché setting, Olivia stumbles upon some creepy treasures. She records her findings (which conveniently, are of use later in the film) before returning to the group, where Carter initiates a game of truth or dare. From this moment on, things start to get weird for the group of naïve friends. Carter reveals that he tricked Olivia and her friends into joining him in the game because he is “okay with strangers dying”. As Carter tries to leave, he explains to Olivia that the game is real and that you must tell the truth or you die, do the dare or you die—and if you refuse to play, yes, you will inevitably die.
Truth or Dare is a sloppy and scare-free horror film. The film’s opening scene is rushed and doesn’t entice or invest the viewer emotionally. It does, however, set the bar low for the rest of the “violent” scenes throughout the film. Don’t expect to see any gore that will make you squirm—the camera pulls away and instead focuses on the character’s reactions. This film is classified “M for mature audiences” in Australia, but in America it is “PG 13”. Given the classification, the film is clearly targeted at teen audiences, so if you’re looking for a genuinely frightening flick, I recommend giving Truth or Dare a miss, or adding it to your to-watch-if-bored list.Each character has a turn at choosing to receive a truth or dare from someone else––following the same basic principles of the real game. The difference however, is that the demon entity controlling the game, Calax (voiced by Gary Anthony Williams), possesses the person asking and turns their face into a creepy CGI-smile that is so exaggerated it almost looks silly. One character in the film describes it as a “messed up Snapchat filter”—and I couldn’t agree more.
The characters in Truth or Dare lack depth in personality and emotion. These close friends don’t seem to be that close, because whenever someone gets hurt or dies no one is very upset about it and they all quickly turn their attention towards the next person’s turn. This film makes a common mistake, and it’s one that many other atrocious horror films before it have made: death and horror are taken for granted and don’t truly effect the characters as they would people in real life. This takes away a connection between the audience and the characters, because in reality we would all be highly upset about losing someone we care for. Even the dares themselves are bland clichés; Markie has no choice but to break Olivia’s hand, and Lucas has to choose between killing Markie and Olivia. Although they are not particularly creative, these extreme dares do add a fun element to the film’s plot and keeps things interesting.
Lucy Hale and Tyler Posey, who lead this film, do help the screenplay a little due to their roles in similar television shows of the horror and thriller genre (Pretty Little Liars and Teen Wolf, respectively). Their acting increases the film’s believability and ensures that it doesn’t emerge as a complete failure in the world of major Hollywood releases.
However, some critics are harsher than I am, and the film received an approval rating of 15 per cent out of 104 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I thought I was going to be scared throughout the 100 minute run-time, especially considering it is a Blumhouse Production: a company well-known for creating films that guarantee nightmares for the audience. Unfortunately, this was not to be so.
Despite all the flaws in Truth or Dare, it was entertaining and the plot was easy to follow. There were a few tense moments that may keep you on the edge of your seat, with the expected highly dramatic climax in the ending. If you are someone who can be easily scared, or if you want to conquer the horror genre by taking baby steps, start with this film. Take my mum, for example: she almost fell off her seat from shock in nearly every scene while I was trying to contain my laughter.
The truth is, it’s not an exceptional horror flick; but how about a dare? I dare you to watch Truth or Dare to the end without laughing. Trust me, it’ll be harder than it seems.
Truth or Dare is in cinemas now!