Some people like the adrenaline rush that results from being scared almost senseless, while others prefer to avoid haunted houses, scary movies or even horror books. Being part of the second group, I was already a little nervous to go into “Truth or Dare,” the newest horror film from Blumhouse Productions — known for another recent horror film, “Happy Death Day.”
Directed by Jeff Wadlow of “Kick Ass 2,” and written by Michael Reisz, Jillian Jacobs, Chris Roach and Wadlow himself, I think I expected more of this movie than I actually got. The trailers for the film make the plot seem a little more believable than it actually was, but Wadlow appeared to be hoping his audience would be willing to suspend their disbelief further than many did.
SPOILER ALERT: This article will feature minor spoilers for the film “Truth or Dare” in order to accurately discuss aspects of the cinematography and events relevant to the review.
“Truth or Dare” is a horror movie about a game of truth or dare that goes horribly awry. Lucas (Tyler Posey) and Olivia (Lucy Hale) join a group of their friends on a trip to Mexico before college graduation. In Mexico a stranger convinces the group to play what they expected to be a harmless game of truth or dare. After the game begins, it awakens a demon who forces Olivia, Lucas and their friends to admit their darkest secrets among other things. Though many already know the rules of truth or dare, this game’s rules have drastic results; “Tell the truth or die, do the dare or die, and if you stop playing, you die.”
Already there’s an expectation of something horrifying and there were some really intense moments in the film, mostly the gruesome murders, but there actually wasn’t much horror in the film — though definitely more than enough to freak those who avoid scary movies out. This was done more through a “How is this guy going to die and is it going to be super gory?” kind of way than an actual “Have to check my shower to make sure no one’s hiding in there in the middle of the night” kind of way. For example, Ronnie’s (Sam Lerner) death. Ronnie is the manliest of men, so of course he was dared to stand on a pool table and show the world his “little man.” The rules of the game state you do the dare or die, so he has two choices: do it and live or don’t and die. Ronnie decides to do the dare, but he doesn’t completely expose himself so he falls to his death. Other characters are dared to cut out their tongue, steal a gun and hold their dad at gunpoint, break their best friend’s hand or shoot them. All of these dares led to some intense suspense and I, as a chicken, left the theater very frightened, but many felt the film didn’t follow through on much of the horror the trailers promised.
The film has a great premise though, and I found myself actually intrigued by the idea of a supernatural, demonized game of truth or dare bent on the destruction of all players unless someone could find a way out or get a priest involved. Unfortunately, “Truth or Dare” tried and failed to deliver that.
Most of the movie focused on the “shocking” truths the friends were supposed to share, many of which weren’t actually shocking at all, and I spent more of the movie worrying about how much blood was going to be shed, freaking out every time the creepy smile appeared, and deciding not to ever go into super creepy abandoned churches without a priest or someone with common sense (they at least got this horror movie trope right). If Blumhouse and the slew of writers wanted to focus on this, though, they could have made a movie about a supernatural slumber party where no one dies, but they can’t leave the room without answering or something with a lot less death. Blumhouse didn’t, though. They wanted a horror film, but what they provided was a plot that tried too hard and characters that didn’t try hard enough — for a group of friends, they seemed more like frenemies.
For true horror fans with a high tolerance for fright and horror, this movie probably won’t be for you. If the scariest thing you watch is “Paranorman,” “The Addams Family” or “Psycho,” then this movie might be actually frightening for you — I’ll admit, parts of it really stuck with me.