Genre: Supernatural Thriller
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Cast: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Landon Liboiron, Sophia Taylor Ali, Nolan Gerard Funk
RunTime: 1 hr 40 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Scene of Intimacy and Some Violence)
Released By: UIP
Official Website: https://www.blumhousestruthordare.com
Opening Day: 10 May 2018
Synopsis: Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) and Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf) lead the cast of Truth or Dare, a supernatural thriller from Blumhouse Productions (Happy Death Day, Get Out, Split). A harmless game of “Truth or Dare” among friends turns deadly when someone—or something—begins to punish those who tell a lie—or refuse the dare.
Perfectly eager for horror fans to associate this latest teenage horror with genre specialty studio Blumhouse, the official title of the movie reads “Blumhouse’s ‘Truth or Dare”. In truth, Blumhouse has had their fair share of hits and misses over the years, so as much as it has cemented its reputation with last year’s ‘Get Out’ and ‘Happy Death Day’, it is also equally culpable for some abysmal entries like ‘Unfriended’ and ‘The Darkness’. Unfortunately, while this thriller isn’t their worst, it is quite certainly one of their decidedly inferior ones, with few scares, even less wit and just altogether dull.
Like many Blumhouse titles, it puts a spin on a deceptively familiar setup – in this case, a deadly version of the junior high party game of the same name which possesses a group of college kids who play it while on spring break in Mexico. Among the unlucky sextet is the group’s do-gooder Olivia (Lucy Hale), who’d much rather be spending her time building homes for the less fortunate than engaging in some drunken revelry south of the border; that is, until her best friend Markie (Violett Beane) emotionally bribes her to go along, although the fact that she has eyes for Markie’s boyfriend Lucas (Tyler Posey) could be part of the reason too.
On their final night, Olivia lets herself be charmed by Carter (Landon Liboiron), a stranger at the bar who subsequently invites her and her friends to an abandoned Catholic mission to play the titular game. As you may expect, secrets get revealed, including Olivia’s one about Lucas, but none more devastating than Carter’s disclosure that he had lured everyone there so that he may get to live. Before Carter takes off, he warns them that they have no choice but to play, and just as importantly to follow the rules of the game.
Obviously, the gang will soon learn that Carter’s threats are real, as one by one they are taunted by demonically distorted faces of people around them spouting the game’s signature opening line ‘truth or dare?’. Either way, the game forces each one to confront some part of themselves that they have been trying to hide – whether is it admitting to selling illegal prescriptions, or coming out as gay to one’s ostensibly homophobic parent – before eventually daring them in life-threatening ways or killing them outright Rube Goldbergian style.
At least that seems to be the logic of director Jeff Wadlow’s film, which he co-wrote with three other credited writers, that suffers from a dearth of both inventive storytelling and imaginative staging. The former plays out in thinly drawn characters that we hardly care for who dies or who lives, as well as a laughable home stretch where Olivia and Lucas track down a mute Mexican nun to find out how to beat the demon at its own game. The latter means that there is hardly any fun or thrill to be had watching the characters getting knocked off one-by-one, and save for one sequence which sees one of them try to walk along the perimeter of a slanted roof while finishing a handle of vodka, none of the others come close to matching the white-knuckle tension of any one of the five ‘Final Destination’ films.
Even the actors look bored, and quite honestly, we don’t blame them. The film isn’t involving, or clever, or even fun; it simply goes along from one truth or dare to the next, trying frantically to maintain some semblance of logic and/or come up with some surprises along the way. Like we said, this is certainly one of Blumhouse’s lesser titles, and there is good reason why there is as yet commitment on a ‘Truth or Dare 2’. As long as Blumhouse keeps up with more ‘Get Outs’ and ‘Happy Death Days’ than ‘Truth or Dare’ types, it can afford the occasional disappointments like this one.
(Truth - this latest Blumhouse production is one of their decidedly inferior ones; we dare it to be bolder, cleverer and scarier)
Review by Gabriel Chong