Film Review: Truth or Dare

Truth: This movie is a waste of time.
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Every Blumhouse release can’t be Get Out: intelligent, scary, culturally impactful. There are so many that come out every year that some of them are just going to be…OK. Reasonably scary, well-acted enough, not original or particularly memorable but at least competently made and effective in the moment.

Mediocrity, alas, was too high a goal for Truth or Dare.

Are you wondering how a high-school party game gets translated to the big screen? The answer is: incredibly stupidly. Doe-eyed do-gooder Olivia (Lucy Hale) and her pack of hot young 20-something friends go to Mexico for spring break, where they honor the legacy of a century-plus of horror-movie idiots—“We do stupid stuff because the plot doesn’t work otherwise!”—by hiking to an abandoned, dilapidated mission in the middle of the night. There, they play a game of Truth or Dare that’s in short order hijacked by a demon. That demon follows them home, where he punishes everyone who doesn’t play the game properly by either compelling them to kill themselves or making them fall victim to gruesome “accidents."

Pause for a moment here: The reason our neighborhood horror-movie dunderheads were at the mission in the first place is that they were led there by a suspicious newcomer to the group, who’s also the one to suggest the game of Truth or Dare. His determination to get them to the mission doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, given it’s established later on that being in a particular location isn’t a prerequisite for joining the game. But hey, internal logic isn’t Truth or Dare’s strong suit. Neither are compelling characters or effective scares.

In Truth or Dare’s favor, it does manage to create one of the most unintentionally hilarious horror-movie villains to hit the silver screen in the past decade. You know what makes a villain really scary? If he uses party games to poke and prod at a ham-fisted love triangle subplot, asking bland hunk Lucas (Tyler Posey), who’s dating Olivia’s bad-girl best friend Markie (Violett Beane), a slightly more intimidatingly worded version of “Do you like Olivia, or do you like like Olivia?”

Why are you laughing? It’s supposed to be scary.

It’s as scary as anything else in Truth or Dare. Aside from a few jump scares, the scares don’t really land, telegraphed as they are by a thuddlingly obvious score and too-obvious plot twists. The plot stumbles along like, well, a drunken co-ed on spring break; every time the narrative hits a dead end, you can practically hear a producer scream, “Just have them Google something!” I know “privacy” isn’t really a thing on the Internet anymore, but I’m going to go ahead and guess you probably can’t rustle up the exact address of a random old lady who lives in a backwoods double-wide in Mexico all that easily. But hey: The plot demands what the plot demands. Even when what the plot demands is dumb as hell and leads nowhere.

Truth or Dare is toothless, derivative and predictable from the first scene to the last, when (of course) the action wraps up in such a way as to invite a sequel if this first outing should earn enough money. Readers, here’s a dare for you: Don’t help that happen.

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