Truth or Dare review: The Blumhouse bubble looks set to burst with a cursed children’s game misstep.
Truth or Dare review by Kat Hughes.
After a stellar year in 2017 with Split, Get Out and Happy Death Day all taking big bucks, it seems that all eyes are on Blumhouse‘s latest release Truth or Dare. Directed by Jeff Wadlow, whose previous movies include Never Back Down, Kick-Ass 2 and the lacklustre horror Cry Wolf, the film reinvents the classic children’s game of Truth or Dare into an It Follows-style menace.
Olivia (Pretty Little Liars Lucy Hale) and her friends (who include Teen Wolf‘s Tyler Posey and Flash‘s Violett Beane) are partying in Mexico for Spring Break. Looking for the next fun thing to do, they follow Olivia’s new suitor to a remote venue for a game of Truth or Dare. Things then get weird when, upon the groups return home, the game seems to be following them. The group realise that this is no ordinary game and that if they stop playing, they’ll end up dead. Can Olivia and her friends stop the curse, or will they end up as its next victims?
Disappointingly, it seems like Truth or Dare might be the film to burst the current Blumhouse bubble. If you’ve seen the trailer online or in theatres, then you’ve essentially already watched the film as the hundred-minute narrative doesn’t really expand on anything.
Proceedings start quite nicely with an eerie fire-fuelled showdown at a gas station, but what follows never really lands in the same way. Immediately after our opening inferno we get to meet our cast of stock horror film students – the bookish best friend, the boozy party girl, the selfish jerk, and the sex pest etc. Almost all are pretty one-dimensional, but don’t worry as most don’t last that long. The only character who really gets to show a different side is our token ‘slut’ Markie. Before long after the film opens, the group are partying in Mexico, and for some reason playing truth or dare. If these were high school teens then maybe this would be a plausible decision, but this group are college seniors, one of whom is pre-med. Their decision to partake in the game just doesn’t really make sense, and unfortunately it’s just the first of several unresolved plot holes and leaps of logic that Truth or Dare forces the viewer to swallow.
Related: Get Out review
With Truth or Dare director Jeff Wadlow is clearly taking inspiration from the likes of It Follows and Final Destination, but never manages to inject enough originality to stand apart from either. This means that comparisons will obviously be drawn by many and Truth or Dare just comes off as an inferior product. The demon’s presence isn’t the menacing juggernaut of It Follows; it’s appearance is more comedic than frightening, described by Olivia as a face distorted by a ‘Snapchat filter’, it screams Aphex Twin video reject to this writer. The deaths are all like those in Final Destination and rather than being shocking, they fall flat.
Now that I have dared to tell you the negatives, it’s time for some positive truths. Truth or Dare is a visually well put together film. There are some imaginative camera techniques such as towards the start when we get a sequence of phone videos (shot by the cast themselves) of our core group having fun in Mexico. The desert-set sequences throughout are so beautifully sun-bleached that aesthetically they could come straight from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The cast are incredibly likeable, Hale especially captivating as our lead Olivia. There’s an easy chemistry between all the characters and you can’t help but feel that if the script were a little tighter and the threat not so gimmicky, Truth or Dare could have been something truly special.
Entertaining enough, but ultimately rather disposable, Truth or Dare is a rare misstep for Blumhouse.
Truth or Dare review by Kat Hughes, April 2018.
Truth or Dare arrives in UK cinemas on Friday 13th April 2018.