Nonsensical, rough and barely watchable – that’s Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (2017) in a nutshell.
An imdb trivia page about Truth or Dare (2018) says that director Jeff Wadlow pitched the film to Blumhouse producers by revealing only the first scene and the title. Judging by the quality of what comes afterwards in the final cut, Wadlow didn’t expect this project to be green-lit. Or, he’s just a really uninventive filmmaker.
Even the concept for Truth or Dare (2018) already sounds dumb, which is why I avoided this unloved-by-critics Blumhouse failure for almost two years. What convinced me to give Wadlow’s film a shot was its fellow horror flick Escape Room (2019) – another trashed movie, that I actually found enjoyable. And here I was, hoping to be positively surprised once more.
Now that I’ve watched it, my streak of luck has definitively ended.
Truth or Dare (2018) moves to the tone of a cheap rip-off of cheesy slashers about teenagers getting butchered. The film begins with a bunch of wild spring breakers partying hard in Mexico. While they’re dancing through the night, one of them – Olivia (Lucy Hale) – meets a stranger at the bar. A few shots and sips later, the guy introduces them to the titular game, which later works like a lethal chain letter. In order to stay alive, one must either reveal some nasty truth or choose dare.
The tawdry quality of the movie is revealed almost momentarily.
Starting from the first fifteen minutes, the characters all belong to a cheap soap opera. They are not even the typical fodder meat, as often found in horror films, nor a colorful motley of likable teenagers. One after another, the actors echo with disinterest, and it’s clear they’re all suffering from a complete lack of other projects on their plate.
Furthermore, the writing never comes to their aid, because the story snaps to every chance of a yawn-worth thrills, instead of building an atmosphere to scare with. That cause the actions, undertaken by the characters, to be dumb and often irrational. A love triangle between Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey and Violett Beane is particularly awful – it occupies plenty of Truth or Dare’s (2018) short runtime, but brings little to the actual story.
Following a bunch of dreary people, in their woeful attempt at surviving a truth or dare game, isn’t fun. But if Truth or Dare (2018) attempted at the so-bad-it’s-good kind of horror film, I’d probably love it for its kitsch.
There were one or two enjoyably awkward scenes, which had traces of what Kick-Ass 2 (2013), Wadlow’s most notable film so far, glimpsed at. One of these rare moments in Truth or Dare (2018) is a scene when one of the players gets killed. The group receives a video of him killing himself in a bar, but – as if there’s a missing link scene lost in the editing room – they instantly move onto a different conversation, rather unshaken by the event.
It’s a classic “I definitely have breast cancer” moment, which could also be turned into a kind-of wink at the audience.
But other than the above, as well as a few other mistakes, Truth or Dare (2018) closes in on a whopping calamity that’s neither scary, innovative, witty or even guilty-pleasure enjoyable. Wadlow wants to be serious, and believes in the menacing power of a killing game that’s revealed by Joker-like, wide-mouthed smiles, which are so obviously computer-generated that it hurts. And that’s about it for the scares, because the writers have obviously forgotten we’re past eight installments of Saw franchise at that current moment. It takes much more to scare audiences in the 21st century.
All in all, Truth or Dare (2018) ends up a waste of time. Probably writing this review was a waste of time too, because we should leave this crap in the past, and let it exist there. My personal request for Mr. Wadlow – next time, please consult a concept with your producers, because feedback could stop this atrocity from getting made.
Truth or Dare (2018) – Culturally Loved or Hated?
Absolutely hated. This is the kind of jerry-built B-movie that should have gone straight to VOD and get lost in its abyss.
Truth or Dare (2018)
Hate Grade: 8/10
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Writers: Michael Reisz (story by), Jillian Jacobs, Christopher Roach, Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane
Cinematography: Jacques Jouffret
Music: Matthew Margeson