Some movies are able to transcend a genre, offer a unique perspective, or just be downright fun - Truth or Dare is not one of those movies. The latest from Blumhouse Productions (Get Out, Paranormal Activity), offers little-to-no entertainment during the 100-minute runtime, and truly dares the audience to walk out before the end credits roll. By turning the classic teenage party game into a deadly web of “truths” and “dares”, the film already starts at a disadvantage. Although the premise isn’t the most farfetched we have seen tackle the horror genre, Truth or Dare fails to creatively tell a story, instead focusing on cookie-cutter college drama and manufactured thrills that never quite work. In addition to the awful plot, acting, and writing, director Jeff Wadlow was able to include Truth or Dare’s trademark “scary” smile, which is more cringe inducing than anything and may be one of the worst horror film bits in recent memory.
Early on in Truth or Dare we meet Olivia (Lucy Hale) and Markie (Violett Beane), best friends and college roommates. Olivia, the responsible friend, tries to skip out on their last college spring break but is easily swayed to join Markie and the rest of the crew. After a relatively safe and enjoyable trip in Mexico, the group gets coerced into visiting a creepy old convent. As it turns out, the convent is ground zero for a life-altering truth or dare curse, that can only be attached to anyone who plays within its walls. Unfortunately, the naïve friend group plays the game, and is stuck with the curse. Back in the real world everyone starts to realize that the curse is real, and the penalty for not playing is death.
The problem with Truth or Dare is that it is so poorly executed, the film never explores what could make this concept remotely scary. The “truths” presented are shallow and predicable, in the “Do you have feelings for your best friend’s boyfriend?” variety, and the dares are almost laughable. The movie starts out not taking itself too seriously, which would have provided a welcome sense of self-awareness, but, unfortunately, Truth or Dare loses its comic flair early on in the film, leaving the audience to wonder what they got themselves into. Wadlow treats his characters more like pawns in a game instead of actual human beings, which makes it very hard to feel anything towards them when things start to go south.
If nothing else, Truth or Dare can make you think about what you would do in a situation like this. Would you be able to tell your darkest secrets to your best friend? Could you follow through on some of the most horrific dares imaginable? Sadly, the fun ends here, and you realize that this film is better suited as a 22-minute edition of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” rather a full-length feature film. With a bloated cast of characters and a head-scratching plot, this film cannot deliver. Whether you are looking for thrills and scares, or just some dumb fun, steer clear of Truth or Dare.