Truth or Dare
How old were you when you last played truth or dare? I must admit, I may take a large amount of persuading before engaging in the shenanigans of my early teenage years, but if the events in this latest instalment from renowned horror studios Blumhouse Productions are anything to go by, I will never even entertain the idea again. Truth or Dare cherry picks the elemental necessities required when baking up a new and successful fright night picture, yet presents a film that probably looked delectable on the pre-production recipe sheet, but proved rather bland once taken out of the oven.
In an attempt to produce a horror that can stand independently alongside the collection of Blumhouse’s franchise projects such as Insidious, Paranormal Activity and Sinister – to name just a few – the studio has brought together your usual cluster of American school kids, placed them in a precarious Mexican mission and thrown them in a frightening demonic curse for good measure. The group, lead by the honest and caring Olivia (Lucy Hale), drive across the border to celebrate their final spring break before life “tears them all apart”. What they are unaware of however, is that their lives are set to take a very different course that will make them question reality and see the world they knew fall all around them. After a drunken and eventful visit to an abandoned mission, the group find that the harmless game of truth or dare in which they engaged in has more deadly and horrific consequences than they could ever imagine. With demonic possessions forcing them to continuously play, the group must endeavour to survive the rigorous testing, revealing their darkest secrets and conducting thoughtless crimes, as they search for a way to end the torment.
It must first be acknowledged that to label Truth or Dare as a horror wouldn’t be a fair presumption to make. With little gore, jump-scares or a suspense-building soundtrack to boot, the film falls rather flat, with greater emphasis on the psychological backstories of its main protagonists. The cast features your usual assortment of characters, from the jock to the nerd, with an array of acting talents depicting their on-screen counterparts with the authenticity and veracity that director Jeff Wadlow would have hoped for. The decision to build upon and flesh out selected players’ story arcs proves an interesting augmentation to the plot, with the welcome addition of troubling family relations, sexuality acceptance and bereavement presenting greater demons for our characters to battle; but these added dimensions are quickly disposed of by the recurring, sometimes plain goofy devilish possessions, just to keep the plot ticking over.
At its bare foundations, Truth or Dare is not particularly scary, but more of a thrilling spectacle sprinkled with humorous flashes, contributed to mainly by witty exchanges of dialogue and an assured performance by Hale. At one moment, it is mentioned that the appearance of the spirit contorts the face into a “weird Snapchat filter”, and to be brutally honest they could not be more right. In a day where technology is advancing to the fantastical extremes where we can change our own appearance through filters – aren’t we blessed? – this effect looked gawky more than frightening, but perhaps that is simply down to the desensitisation of the target generations. It’s not Blumhouse’s finest work, but they are used to hit and miss productions, with the award-winning Get Out and Split released in the same year as the less lucrative Amityville: The Awakening, so it will not leave a blemish on the studio’s record. One thing that can be taken away from Truth or Dare is never play a game in an abandoned hilltop church in the middle of the night, but to be honest who would (unless of course you are starring in a horror movie).
Truth or Dare is released nationwide on 13th April 2018.
Watch the trailer for Truth or Dare here: