Movie Review: ‘Truth or Dare’
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Cast: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Landon Liboiron
Plot: A group of friends play party game ‘truth or dare’ while on holiday…but the game is possessed by a demon.
Review: Could this concept work? Absolutely. If nobody could be sure who is acting of their own free will or if they’re being compelled to by a supernatural, malevolent blackmailer then you’ve got a horror film with a good psychological element included. There could be some real twists and turns here. Taking an innocent if somewhat salacious game and making it sinister could go a long way.
Instead we have a generic and lesser version of better horror movies. It’s a good formula – a group find themselves under a curse and go through a process of accepting that it’s real and investigating the source of it before finding a way to undo their fate by understanding the rules already laid out. Like The Ring, It Follows, Final Destination and others before it, Truth or Dare ticks off these plot points easily enough. It just doesn’t do any of them with any competence whatsoever.
Firstly, there’s the character’s willingness to accept what is happening. They see one, maybe two things out of the ordinary and they get on board with their lives being held in the hands of this macabre supernatural force. If they don’t play along then they get a weird smile on their face and die by suicide or accident. One character notes that it looks like a ‘Snapchat filter’ and this is spot on. It does look like an effect from an app. It’s meant to be creepy but instead it looks cartoonish. Fortunately everyone here is super gullible, so it doesn’t matter.
Part of the satisfaction with this style of movies is seeing how the protaganist manages to find a loophole in the rules or the logic behind it that allows an escape. In the case of The Ring every part of the ‘game’ is a clue that unravels the mystery. For It Follows the design was very simple: have sex and pass on the curse. Truth or Dare sounds simple enough if nonsensical. Choose ‘truth’ or ‘dare’ and then do what’s challenged or die. How this manifests is already inconsistent, with it sometimes being texts, possessed people, random graffiti, etc, but the movie causes frustration by breaking it’s own rules and then adding new ones every time the premise ran thin.
Our hero, Olivia (Hale), first sees ‘Truth or Dare?’ written on a desk, and then on a flyer and finally scratched into her car. No-one else can see these messages so they’re part of the cursed game. She doesn’t do anything about this until a bunch of smiley people surround her. For the rest of the movie any person who doesn’t immediately participate in the game, regardless of how it presents itself, dies. Why does Olivia get a free pass three times in a row? This is just one instance of the movie’s rules being inconsistent. Then there’s the changed rules they trot out whenever…now you can only choose ‘dare’, but only if ‘truth’ has been chosen twice in a row. Now you can ‘dare’ someone to tell the ‘truth’. It’s lazy writing.
When we get to the finale everything hinges on the friendship between Olivia and what appears to be Jennifer Lawrence’s understudy. But throughout the story Olivia has been shown to the worst bloody friend she could be. There’s nothing to suggest that they have any kind of bond and they do nothing but nasty things to each other throughout the film before their ‘friendship’ becomes the most important thing in the world. Again, lazy.
And then there’s the ending. Without spoiling anything, just…why? Why would you do that? Perhaps they’re going for controversial, but it’s just weak.
There’s some decent production values and some potentially good ideas. At best it’s a laugh.
Rating: TWO out of TEN