Monday, October 15, 2018

31 Days of Horror 2018: Truth or Dare

Directed by Jeff Wadlow.
2018. Rated PG-13, 100 minutes.
Lucy Hale
Tyler Posie
Violett Beane
Hayden Szeto
Landon Liboiron
Nolan Gerard Funk
Sophia Taylor Ali
Sam Lerner
Aurora Perrineau
Tom Choi
Joe Ochman

Olivia (Hale) is a hard working college student. She works so hard she plans on studying her way through spring break. Luckily, or unluckily, her friends won't take no for an answer when they ask her to go to Mexico with them for a week of debauchery and rig it so she can go. On their last night there, they meet a cool guy at a bar. He invites the whole gang off to a secluded and abandoned church for some extra partying. Once there, a game of "Truth or Dare" breaks out and, soon enough, things get creepy. The cool guy informs our heroes he needed them to participate so he would no longer have to and that they will never be able to stop playing. Sure enough, after they get back home, each member of the crew takes their turns being asked "truth or dare" by some supernatural entity disguised as whoever happens to be around. The penalty for non-compliance is death.

It's a promising premise, but the execution fails it. The film seems ripe for a game between friends that spirals out of control with ever-increasing stakes, similar to 2013's Cheap Thrills. Instead, we're inundated with random characters, and occasionally main ones, speaking through a silly, Jack Nicholson's Joker inspired Snapchat filter and trying to sound scary. Even if that works for you, the movie quickly becomes repetitive with a plot that lurches forward ever-so-slowly. The 100 minute runtime feels twice as long.

A possibly bigger issue with the film is its characters. There's simply no one here we care about. This unlikable bunch is, of course, led by someone we're supposed to love, or at least root for, Olivia. However, the screenplay, handled by no less than four writers, takes every opportunity to let us know how rotten a friend she is to her supposed bestie Markie (Beane). It doubles down on the tactic by making Markie and everyone else in the movie even more detestable. As a result, we actively root for whatever this thing is that's haunting them to kill them all. I could be wrong, but I don't think that's what the filmmakers were going for. Matters aren't helped by the fact that the cast ranges in performance from slightly below average to slightly above. Not one soul does anything to elevate their stock characters to the level of being even remotely memorable, lead actress Lucy Hale included. None of them are truly terrible, but nothing stands out about any of them, either.

As mentioned, the actors weren't given much to work with by the team of writers who assembled the script. Their movie so desperately tries to be like other, better movies, it never forges its own identity. It's more than content pulling tropes and cliches from wherever it can find them. The film throws them all at the screen, but withholds the soul necessary to make them stick. Viewers grasp at straws for awhile looking for something worth holding, only to give up when we realize our efforts will be for naught. We then realize that Truth or Dare is an exercise in subtraction. It adds Final Destination to It Follows, but somehow subtracts everything that makes those movies work.


  1. Yeah, I heard this was a let down. Thank you for steering me away from that film.

  2. And here I was hoping for some Madonna songs. ;-)

    1. "Thank you, it was really.... neat..."

    2. That Madonna doc was far more compelling than this movie.

  3. Funny story - I watched Truth or Dare last week on Netflix. I found it to be incredible goofy but a bit fun and old-fashioned in its horror. It wasn't until the end that I realized I had watched an entirely different Truth or Dare than the one I intended. The one I watched was from 2017. Oops.

    1. Almost did that myself. I might still check it out.

  4. Ahh it's a shame this isn't as good as it could have been. I might just have to look up the version that Keith watched - ha!

  5. This looked pretty generic so I skipped it. Seems I didn't miss much. Great review!