‘TRUTH OR DARE’ is the latest horror/thriller from Blumhouse Productions out in theaters this weekend. This film directed by Jeff Wadlow (True Memoirs of an International Assassin), follows a group of college friends that during a trip to Mexico take part in a game of Truth or Dare. A game that turns deadly when something malevolent follows them home, killing all who refuse to continue playing the game.
Blumhouse has a relatively solid track record of good films. Like all studios, there are some that missed the mark, but their being behind this one were what peaked my interest in what otherwise looked like another routine horror/thriller aimed for the younger millennial’s than a more general audience.
I hoped there was something I missed in the trailer. Or something it didn’t show me that would result in a fun film with some nice tension and a couple of scares. Unfortunitally, it was just another thriller, lacking any true horror, with disposable college-aged characters, and some poorly constructed jump-scares that failed to hit with any impact.
The performances were actually not that bad and I do think they made the most out of some flat material. They all showed effort. Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) gives some energy to her role and regardless of the character lacking substance, she was still able to portray one that you could build enough interest in to see where the story would take her. Violette Beane (The Flash), Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf), Hayden Szeto (The Good Place) and Sophia Ali (Grey’s Anatomy) were all serviceable as well.
They all feel like real college-aged characters and they definitely portray a grounded chemistry that make the dramatic dynamics between them feel more engaging. Nolan Gerard Funk (Counterpart) was probably the more memorable of the characters. He was the arrogant rich kid, and he certainly sold his dialogue nicely, stealing many of the scenes he was in, and providing the film some its more genuine comical moments.
In my opinion the story-line was the biggest hindrance to this movie. It went too often to other familiar stops in the genre (and not the good ones) without enough unique elements of its own to create a memorable film. The concept of this game following a group of people home, forcing them to play in their normal lives, did have some potential. But with the progression of this plot-line it never was depicted in a fashion that could generate true intrigue. It didn’t feel like it explored the concept of this game taking over peoples lives, as much as it felt like a routine genre template with the game idea slapped on to try and give something we have already seen, a new face-lift.
The dares this game made the characters play was more for building drama between them than it was for generating true suspense, and it honestly was a letdown. It was supposed to be a horror movie that would deliver some frightening moments, not a college drama focusing on who loves who, coming clean with parents about secrets, or having sex with someone else in the group of friends.
With the story lacking any intensity in the horror genre the film is left using false jump-scares as really the only means of trying to build some scary moments, and it just doesn’t work. None of the jump-scares felt genuine. They were all just loud noises to startle the audience as opposed to putting in the effort to try and build creepy or sinister moments for the story. The special-effects looked like something from the early 2000’s with distorted smiles that looked more like leftover victims from Nicholson’s Joker in the ’89 ‘Batman.’ It went to these dark eyes and over accentuated smiles to be scary repeatedly and after the first one, it felt overly gimmicky and did nothing to land the intended frightening impact.
‘Truth or Dare’ was not a horrible movie. It just wasn’t one that thrived with creative ambition. It was a forgettable college-aged story that was more thriller than horror, only without a lot of thrills. It was a very procedural genre film that felt more like a patchwork of other past movies than its own new vision. This would have been a much better drama, without the supernatural element, as the relationship tension between the characters intrigued me more than the main plot-line of a deadly game and routine curse.