TRUTH OR DARE (2018) is your typical generic supernatural slasher
Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare is nothing more than a mediocre supernatural slasher that blends into the genre without merely a blip on the radar.
Blumhouse usually spends its time putting out some great thrilling horror films with a limited budget, but every now and then something like Truth or Dare shows up that fails to capitalise on a decent premise by not offering much in the realms of originality or quality. The story follows a group of friends who get roped into a deadly game of truth or dare in which if they don’t complete their task they die. To give you an idea of what this movie is like, it’s Final Destination (2000) lite, where essentially death circles around the group until people fuck up but without the gore, ridiculousness, or fun. If you’ve seen supernatural slashers in the past you’ll know exactly where it’s heading in each moment as you can see most of everything coming from a mile away (except the ending which I’ll get to). Predictable is fine in cases where the story or characters are deeply engaging but almost none of that is applicable here resulting in a pretty dry experience. Oh and did I mention this is a horror? No? Well that’s because I myself nearly forgot as only a small handful of scary moments exist in this entire film.
Before going deeper into how bland and uninspired it is I want to highlight the main cast who to be honest aren’t the worst part of the movie, rather they do their best to elevate the story and sell the effectiveness of the horror sequences. Lucy Hale and Violett Bean who play Olivia and Markie respectively are the two best performers in here. There isn’t anything flash from either one but they both bought some character and personality to the story and had me somewhat enjoying the development of their relationship. Lucy Hale specifically is the most intriguing element of the movie, she is great in the lead role and holds together the majority of her scenes. Hayden Szeto who I loved in 2016’s The Edge of Seventeen is also pretty good here, his character Brad has some good scenes here and there and a decent personal journey to keep you intrigued. The rest of the main crew including Lucas (Tyler Posey), Tyson (Nolan Gerard Funk), and Penelope (Sophia Ali) sort of blend in to the background behind the three aforementioned characters. They’re rarely in the spotlight and in most scenes you are more interested in what’s going on with the other members of the crew who are slightly more intriguing.
The movie unfortunately isn’t that scary. It’s a slow burn for the first act the doesn’t seem to pick up until a decent amount of time into the second. Each act is littered with jump-scares and the even more dreadful false jump-scares that suck any enjoyment out of the scene they’re in. It’s really not scary or intense for the majority of the film with only a small handful of moments packed into the back end actually making an impact. Aside from the jump-scares a lot of attempts at horror are mistimed or not set up in a way that eases into the terrifying nature well at all. One of the major issues with the horror is that a great deal of the sequences intended to be scary aren’t because of the fact that the gimmick associated with the film also isn’t. The smiley face look that everyone associated with this movie after the trailer is not terrifying in the slightest. It just looks very silly and campy and honestly I’d say brings about more laughs than scares. Any suspense or horror in the scenes containing this face is undercut by the fact that it looks like a gag belonging in an entry of the satirical Scary Movie franchise.
Additional attempts at emotional engagement in characters’ backstories doesn’t work and also the fact that it introduces new rules to the game regularly throughout the film is confusing if anything. It feels like some of the ‘rules of the game’ are bought in for no reason other than to be an excuse to have a certain thing happen. I mentioned earlier that the ending is something I liked and thinking about it now it’s the only part of the movie that I genuinely enjoyed. I’m talking about the very end of the movie which I won’t spoil here but I thought it was well executed despite still not making the journey to get there worth it.
Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare offers little in the realm of originality and fails to deliver the level of scares typically associated with the production company’s more successful projects. There is the occasional successfully creepy moment and the performances from the lead cast are actually decent so it’s not the hardest film to sit through. By no means will it bore you to death but it’s a dry ride to the end of a story you’ve likely seen before in a number of other supernatural slashers.