In the middle of the spring movie season where our imaginations are being taken across the universe of time and space, into the virtual world of a video game, and to a hidden city where its society has been richly thriving for decades, there always has to be room for a horror movie to try and make us wiggle uncomfortably in our seats, right? Unfortunately, if you want all that, maybe you should go see the film A Quiet Place, because Truth or Dare might not do the job.
Lucy Hale plays Olivia a college student who is as good-hearted and generous as the main protagonist for this genre of films needs to go. Instead of going on a mission for Habitat for Humanity her circle of friends convinces her to spend their last spring break together by going on a trip to Mexico because somehow this is still considered a safe idea. After a couple of days of drinking and Instagramming selfies (the montage is quite endearing), Olivia meets a guy named "Carter" (Landon Liboiron) at one of the clubs and he convinces her adventurous group to go to a promising party spot somewhere else.
After a hike to the farthest reaches of how-stupid-are-you-people, they come upon an old and very abandoned church. Carter has alcohol waiting for his guests and a game of Truth or Dare is suggested to crank this party up to -20. But what they don't know is Carter is a sneaky SOB and he informs them that he lured them there because he's "okay with strangers dying if he gets to live." As he goes to make his hasty escape, Olivia tries to stop him but his final words he leaves her with is to play the game, no matter what, because it's real. But of course, no one takes his parting gift seriously.
When our band of breakers returns back home to the States, it doesn't take long for the spell to take effect. Not only does Olivia begin hallucinating but after the first body drops it forces the group to instantly grab their heads out of disbelief and start realizing they better get a handle on things. The problem is that they don't even know what they are dealing with so they're just victims of the game and are forced to expose painful truths or perform very dicey circus acts.
Truth or Dare is produced by Jason Blum of the continually rising Blumhouse Productions that have had the smash hits Get Out and Split among many more scare-you-properly horror films. Blumhouse has been known for taking small budgets and turning them into sizeable hits while leaving audiences happy with what might be a wave of terrorizing audiences without using any of the tired iconic names known as Freddy and Jason. But speaking of the aforementioned maniac, Blumhouse productions did choose to bump the release date of Truth or Dare from April 27th to Friday, April 13th. This idea worked in the past for them with 2017's Happy Death Day so maybe they're hoping for lightning to cut twice.
The film is directed by Jeff Wadlow who also wrote and directed Kick-Ass 2. While Wadlow is credited as a writer on Truth or Dare as well, he shares it with three other people which I think goes to the fact that this film seems to have severe character aspects that just don't work for me. Of all things, right? You would think I would more be trying to tear apart plot holes in the script. There's some of those too, don't get me wrong but I can't really discuss them without spoiling things about the movie. The good thing that Wadlow does is once the game gets started and our friends are running for their lives, it doesn't slow down too often. There are points of exposition where they have to figure out about the spell they are under so they can try and actually survive this thing but Wadlow always tries to keep something else going on off camera so the pace doesn't just come to a crashing halt. I did find myself along for the ride in the second half as the action of the "Dares" ramps up and the characters become more frantic as they keep finding it more difficult to cheat the game. I mostly enjoyed whatever stunts they had to go through whether it was a "truth" or "dare" as many of them cut deep and attack personal insecurities or seek to simply make a mess of their personal lives.
BUT on the other hand, the problem with Truth or Dare is this is supposed to be a great group of friends who care about each other and we all too quickly find out that they are not as harmonious as it would seem. I don't even understand how all these people can stand to be in the same room together much less take a trip to Mexico. It's a really large flaw in the script and I have a hard time even buying them looking out for each other than to save their own ass which is maybe why the writers think it actually works. The other thing they must've had faith in is the way that people's faces distort into an evil jack-o-lantern like smile whenever the game is trying to alert the next person that it's their turn. The obvious joke I heard when the trailer came out is that this is the "Snapchat Filter" movie and at least the writers were smart enough to show they are in on the joke in the dialogue.
At least one of the biggest problems that tend to happen with horror films is pretty people that are terrible actors. For me, this is probably the strongest thing this movie has actually going for it. Lucy Hale is obviously trying to leave the town of Rosewood as far behind her as she can and does a solid job of being the lead throughout the film. She still has that very likable quality where she only does bad things because she must and is full of guilt after every instance. Violett Beane plays her best friend Markie who has a world of issues going on in her head but her maturity in handling both her own pain and fear of death are two emotions that she conveys with no problems. Markie's boyfriend Lucas (Tyler Posey) is very underused in the beginning and doesn't have the opportunity to really show us much until much later but when he does he plays his cards as a relatable guy and not the typical alpha-male (Teen Wolf joke)for a horror film.
In the end, I actually went into this film pretty excited but was let down by too many factors that couldn't save it. I don't think Truth or Dare is a bad film but it's not scary and it's not really doing anything different, not to mention the most glaring comparison is to the structure of the film Final Destination. If you just want something where you can sit and tune out for a bit and just ride the wave of dead bodies then you should be okay. Otherwise, you might want to just wait and see what Blumhouse has coming out this summer.