TRUTH OR DARE Movie Review
Only a week following the excellent A QUIET PLACE and on the same weekend as the bi-weekly Dwayne Johnson film comes the “Horror” movie TRUTH OR DARE. It’s from Blumhouse, so you know it’s PG-13 and you know it’s lite on anything resembling a real scare. C’mon, we wouldn’t want anything like actual frights to get in the way of an easily digestible story, considering this movie will be gone in 2 weeks to make way for fake gravitas of THE AVENGERS.
But if you’re one of those pansies that say you like horror but don’t actually want to be scared, then TRUTH OR DARE might just be up your lightweight TWILIGHT-watching alley. Director Jeff Wadlow (that name could also double as a porn alias) and 4(!) other writers have crafted a movie that’s diverting enough to keep you entertained, but nothing that’ll keep you up at night, or even remember as soon as you leave the theater. I imagined 2 writers crafted the screenplay while the other 2 made sure to take out anything resembling a legitimate scare.
Blumhouse is developing other horror films based on kids’ games like FREEZE TAG and GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD (which sounds like it might make a great horror movie based solely on the title).
Because it’s Blumhouse, if you’ve seen the trailer, then you’ve pretty much seen the entire movie, including 3rd act revelations that really should have been kept under wraps, but it really doesn’t matter. You want McDonalds, you get McDonalds.
Let’s meet our (mostly white cast)—
Olivia (Lucy Hale, Paul Rudd-ing it as she looks younger than she did on PRETTY LITTLE LIARS)- She wants to build houses for underdeveloped countries and has a YouTube channel. Liv gets roped into going to Mexico for Spring Break with her best friend Markie and the rest of their soon-to-be-dead friends. She harbors a Deep Dark Secret.
Markie- She’s Olivia’s best friend, looks like Kate Hudson and wants Liv to go with her because it’s their final Spring Break together. She also harbors a Deep Dark Secret. Her Boyfriend is…
Lucas (Tyler Posey)- He’s Markie’s boyfriend and may also harbor feelings for Olivia. This might qualify as a Deep Dark Secret.
Brad (Hayden Szeto) – he’s Asian and he’s Gay (Gaysian?) Ok, he’s not white, but he is pretty light-skinned. He hasn’t come out to his Disapproving Asian Father (is there another kind?) yet so, yeah, another Deep Dark Secret.
Pen (Sophia Ali)- again, not white but light-skinned, so as not scare the Blumhouse core audience. It’s not a Deep Dark Secret she’s an alcoholic, as she’s always seen with a drink in her hand
Tyson (Nolan Funk) –It’s no secret that you want him to die early in the movie.
And what about that Creepy Homeless Guy???
It’s not important that you remember these names because most of them will be dead anyway and it’s not like you care about any of them.
The Get-Dead crew go to Mexico and live it up in PG-13 debauchery. Liv meets a mysterious stranger named Carter (Landon Liboiron). After a standard Meet-Cute Carter suggests Liv and her friends spend part of their last night in an abandoned cave off the beaten path.
An abandoned cave? In Mexico? Where no one can find them? Since most of them are white, people will actually care if they go missing.
When they get there, Carter suggests they play Truth or Dare.
It’s not long before the Get-Dead crew realize they’re playing a possibly Supernatural, definitely lethal game of Truth or Dare, where the price for not playing is…DEATH, but handled in a very PG-13 way.
Death. I mentioned that in the previous sentence.
WHAT WORKS WITH TRUTH OR DARE—
1) Yes, it’s lightweight. No, it’s not scary unless you’re 5 years old. But darn it, it is more entertaining than you’d expect, and the final 20 minutes have twists and turns that make the first 80 minutes worth bearing.
2) Clever bastards, not having ANY black people in the cast so you couldn’t really tell who’d die first. Though it’s Super Easy to tell who the Final Girl(s) will be. Because it’s Blumhouse, your first guess is the correct one
WHAT DOESN’T WORK-
1) A QUIET PLACE is playing in a theater right next to this. If you want to be scared, just watch this again, especially that part when ______. Yeah, you remember
2) Some strands of TOD’s story are reminiscent of 2015’s IT FOLLOWS, which is again, an exponentially better movie. If you want to be scared, just watch that again.
3) In retrospect, some of the kills would’ve had more impact had they been more graphic. But you wouldn’t want to scare the kids who’ll spend most of the movie looking at their phones anyway. You know you’re stretching for frights when the scariest parts of the movie involve a “Messed-up Snapchat filter”.
4) 4 Fake Blumhouse scares. You know, when the camera creeps behind someone and then…TURNS AROUND to a shriek and it’s someone completely harmless. That’s how you know you’re watching a Blumhouse movie
OVERALL. You could do worse than TRUTH OR DARE. You could also do a whole lot better. But if you want to see a more effective Blumhouse PG-13 offering, you’d be better off seeing HAPPY DEATH DAY again.
So glad I made it through the entire review without writing, “I Dare you.”