Truth or Dare
Updated: Feb 6, 2020
Since 2009, Blumhouse Productions has become synonymous with low budget horror films. They have had so many successes that their name now comes before some of their releases in marketing materials. They are responsible for the Paranormal Activity, Insidious and Purge franchises as well as last year’s Split, Happy Death Day and Best Picture Oscar nominee Get Out, among numerous others. All of those were made for relatively cheap and went on to be hits. Not everything they have made is good, but several have been very good. Clever, easily promotable concepts, plus a decently consistent level of quality, have led to Blumhouse developing a solid base of fans. Of course, there are going to be a few stinkers in the bunch.
Unfortunately, that leads us to their latest horror film, the unimaginative Truth or Dare. The setup is pretty simple: some soon to graduate college students travel to Mexico for Spring Break and end up playing a possessed game of Truth or Dare. Admittedly, that story is not particularly appealing to me, but a movie is neither good nor bad because of what it is about. The way it relates that idea is what determines its quality. And Truth or Dare is bad for many different reasons.
One is the way the filmmakers have chosen to structure it. Though the premise could go in countless directions (it feels oddly similar to the far superior It Follows), it turns into a basic variation on the teen slasher formula. A group of friends are picked off one by one until they can figure out how to stop whatever is targeting them. It does not do much with the story after the introductory sequences. The game is mainly an excuse for death scenes which are poorly staged and uncreative. Since the characters are types without depth, there is no reason to care about anything that is going on here.
If the movie was entertaining, the absence of story and character development would not be as much of a problem. But it is bizarrely serious for such a ridiculous plot. It has absolutely no sense of humor about itself, eliminating the opportunity to have fun with its idea. Which means that, in addition to being lazy and derivative, it is also really boring. Truth or Dare is only 97 minutes (not counting the end credits), but it feels significantly longer. Due to the lack of inspiration involved, the whole enterprise comes off as tremendously padded with an incredibly obvious middle section leading to an equally obvious, and pointless, conclusion.
Truth or Dare follows the Blumhouse playbook but, unlike their best horror films, it fails to turn its small budget into something worthwhile. That being said, it could still make a fair sum of money. The strong marketing campaign may be sufficient to lure a decent amount of its target audience in on opening weekend, but I am not sure the reactions to it will be positive enough to justify a franchise. Or at least we can sincerely hope not. Just to be on the safe side, I dare Blumhouse not to make a sequel to Truth or Dare.
1 out of 5
Lucy Hale as Olivia
Violett Beane as Markie
Tyler Posey as Lucas
Hayden Szeto as Brad
Sophia Taylor Ali as Penelope
Nolan Gerard Funk as Tyson
Sam Lerner as Ronnie
Landon Liboiron as Carter
Directed by Jeff Wadlow
Screenplay by Jillian Jacobs, Michael Reisz, Christopher Roach and Jeff Wadlow