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.
Good news! Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare is the first great dumpster fire of 2018. For fans of the awful, this is a refreshing change for horror fans after such remarkable films as Annihilation and A Quiet Place delivered a selection of scares and intensity for a range of audiences. The latest dime-a-dozen, PG-13 horror movie to churn forth from the usually reliable Blumhouse fear factory, Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare, exploits the age-old childhood game and attempts to wring it for any vestige of horror that it has.
“…nothing says spring break like hanging out in a dilapidated church in Baja with a total stranger.”
Olivia (Lucy Hale) is an angelic senior gliding through her final year of college on a cloud of humanitarian goodness and perfect grades. While recording her YouTube endorsement for spending spring break with Habitat for Humanity (swear to god), her best friend for life, Markie (Violett Beane) informs her that they are, instead, going to Mexico. Dunno about you all, but when I think spring break, I think Tijuana. Just sayin’ After loading up the car, the two besties join Markie’s boyfriend Lucas (Tyler Posey), their friends Penelope (Sophia Ali) and Tyson (Nolan Gerard Funk) and Brad (Hayden Szeto) to throttle down to the border for some off-the-chain Spring Break fun.
It is on their last night cavorting under the stars at a run of the mill beach party that skeevy stranger, Carter (Landon Liboiron), makes his move. Chatting up the bookish Olivia, he suggests they keep the party going by hanging out at an abandoned church near the beach. Well duh, nothing says spring break like hanging out in a dilapidated church in Baja with a total stranger. Naturally the group is onboard. It is here, in this fateful location, on this fateful night, that this stranger suggests a fateful game of… Truth or Dare.
“…players have to answer a question truthfully or accept a dare and carry it out. If they refuse, they die.”
This isn’t just any game. No, when played with those who are, for lack of a better term, “cursed,” the game becomes very, very real with fatal consequences. The players have to answer a question truthfully or accept a dare and carry it out. If they refuse, they die. Taking a cue from the far superior It Follows, screenwriters Jillian Jacobs, Michael Reisz, Christopher Roach, and the film’s director, Jeff Wadlow, attempt to turn a simple parlor game into a death-dealing, supernatural, viral terror.
I will be the first to admit that the idea has potential. Then again, even Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space began with the kernel of a compelling idea. It’s unfortunate, that with a total of four credited writers, we get what feels like a first or second draft of a story. There are crater-like plot holes in the through-line that could have easily been addressed or explained. What’s worse, there are opportunities missed. At one point, a gay character picks TRUTH and has to come out to his seemingly homophobic father. Nice build up and then. BOOM! We cut away to him explaining what happened. WTF BRO?! What happened to “show” not tell?
“There are too many things wrong with it to enumerate in a single review…”
Oh god, but then we have to learn how it all started and, even better, how to stop it. I won’t spoil the pleasure of these revelations. What I will say is one word. REWRITE. This was a script under deadline and the dates show. Had the producers of this movie slowed down, maybe pulled things back a bit, this might have been something worth watching on Netflix at three in the morning. Instead, we get this.
DO NOT take this dare. Stay away from Blumhouse’s Truth Or Dare. There are too many things wrong with it to enumerate in a single review and your time is entirely too precious to spend on this dreck (but we do our best on the latest episode of the Film Threat Podcast so give that a listen to hear me and Chris Gore’s exquisite rant.) Pulling on the cheap nostalgia of a universal, childhood game and weaving a scary slant to it does nothing but cheapen the integrity of all involved. Also, RIP Ronnie (Sam Lerner). He had the single most effective performance in the movie and his screen time was entirely too short.
Rating: 1 star (Don’t Bother)