Truth or Dare, 2018, Starring Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, and Violett Beane, Directed by Jeff Wadlow
Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare follows a group of friends on a spring break trip to Mexico. They are invited by a random stranger to go to the ruins of a creepy old church and play an innocent game of Truth or Dare. It starts simply enough, with naked romps, kissing, and moral questions, but quickly escalates into a life or death situation when the game is hijacked by a demon who takes the rules way too seriously.
To be sure, I don’t think that Truth or Dare is breaking any wild and crazy ground. Unfortunately, a lot of the best parts were featured in the trailer, so it took away the element of surprise when it came to whether or not a character would complete a given dare. There was also the one thing that drives me nuts; the fact that some of the characters just can’t put aside their own bullshit in a life or death situation and just get through it. There’s always that one person who has to make a scene when a secret is revealed, storming off and unleashing a horrible chain of events. Fight later, people!
But you know what? It was FUN. It had a Final Destination feel to it as they are picked off in the order that they played, and it brought me back to my days of reading the Fear Street novels in my teen years. It had a YA horror vibe for sure, but who cares? It was entertaining as hell!
The plot moves quickly enough to keep it interesting, and I actually found myself giving a hoot about whether or not the characters lived or died. The amount of gore is minimal, but it works. The point of the game is not that they die badly, only that they die. The demon uses whatever is handy, and there is a healthy amount of foreshadowing on some of the dares. It takes snippets of conversations and what it observes. There is never a “Truth” question that requires information that isn’t shared with the audience. It doesn’t know your deepest, darkest secrets, only what it sees and hears, proving that the human condition is pretty damn observable if you know what you’re looking for.
The grin that those possessed by the demon wear is creepy, but also effectual in that there is never a moment that you don’t know exactly where it is. There are no tricks because the demon follows the rules. The calling card of many possession movies is a pivotal scene in which the devil is secretly hiding away in someone that the audience had never expected. Truth or Dare is unique in that the monster is possessing the game itself, and not the people, so it follows the rules that are set the moment the original group began to play. There is no cheating and changing the rules partway, and the players play smartly and strategically.
For an afternoon of mindless horror fun, or a horror-lite option for those made of less than stern stuff, you can’t go wrong with this one.