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Teen screamie fails to deliver

FILM REVIEW: Truth or Dare – a horror movie without the fear factor

Trish Lee

Charlie Masters

trish.lee@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886663

truth or dare

film

Truth or Dare (15)
Running time 1hr 40min
Rating: **


WITH hindsight, it’s probably a good thing that I found Truth or Dare a most trying watch. Horror having redeemed itself of late with some intriguing arthouse turns, this critic was perplexed to find a movie in the mould of the teen screamies that were the undisputed genre norm pre-2015. My expectations have, in other words, been heightened, and this flick barely cuts the mustard.

Somewhere in here, there’s a macabre satire on the pitfalls of social media. Either that, or, with its bitesize selling point, it’s a cinematic effort to channel the Interwebz zeitgeist, to unleash upon the box office a horror movie a la Reddit’s insanely popular ‘creepypastas’. Meanwhile, Truth or Dare’s also trying for a pop-philosophical commentary on consequentialism, as the protagonists all egg each other on with some seriously stale one-liners (in the “you can’t change the past, but you can change the future” vein). At any rate, it’s all bundled together in a package that doesn’t truly deliver with regard to any of these conceits; it IS, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a nauseatingly slick (and very un-frightening) film lacking a decade’s case notes on tension, character development, believability and aesthetics. It races along at a tolerable pace, clocking in at exactly 100 minutes, yet has nothing in the way of memorable sequences or startling jump-scares. If Michael Bay had got his mitts on the screenplay for 2014’s superb It Follows, I fear the result would look much like this (though the actual movie is, to its credit, quite a bit less offensive than that analogy would lead one to believe).

The cast of Truth or Dare are your typical Hollywood college clique, though it would appear that a script doctor has tagged on a few details so that they play better for contemporary audiences (these kids are all trying for med school; one of them is gay). While on spring break in Mexico (it’s called a lad’s holiday, for Pete’s sake), Amelia (Lucy Hale) and her friends are unwittingly lured into a supernatural game of truth or dare; the selected unfortunate is urged by ghouls to play along or hazard their own death. The heralds in question, taking the form of folks familiar to the central brat pack, look a lot like they’ve been conjured with the aid of a certain Snapchat filter (a fact Amelia even hints at halfway through). The bodies stack up, then
it all ends.

I could call it a day here, but it needs to be stressed that Truth or Dare is a tonal rollercoaster ride – it’s about as kid-friendly a horror film as you’re likely to find nowadays, with the exception of some out-of-nowhere turns into darker territory (suicide, child abuse) that leave me even more at odds as to which particular demographic this is intended for. It does a widdle-poor job at making us care for any of the players, and their deaths are neither horrific nor particularly comical. Whereas the Final Destination movies were occasionally able to compensate with sick ingenuity for the predictability of their kills – immanent, as here, to the series’ very concept, in which teens grappled with violent otherworldly forces – you’ll see nothing here that you won’t see coming from a mile off. Go see A Quiet Place instead.

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