Truth or Dare: A good, honest, trashy horror

Review: The actors give it their all. There are super squirmy moments. The plot is illogical

Film Title: Truth or Dare

Director: Jedd Wadlow

Starring: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Landon Liboiron

Genre: Horror

Running Time: 100 min

Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 09:11

   

What would you do? You’re gathered in the dorm room with your beautiful young American friends as one of them explains that some curse has doomed you all to a madly complicated death. If you wear a hat after sundown your head will burst into flames. That sort of thing.

This scene has played out in American horror films for some time. No series has staged it better than the Final Destination flicks. The latest exploitation romp from Blumhouse Productions may be messy, silly and illogical, but it will do well enough until somebody decides to reboot that series.

Listen carefully because I doubt I’ll have the energy to explain this again. While holidaying in Mexico, our industry standard PYTs – one looks like Kate Hudson’s niece, another like Freddie Prinze III – get lured to a haunted convent for a game of Truth or Dare. There are weird smells. There are discarded photographs of scary nuns. It’s all very odd. But they escape with their souls intact.

Or do they? Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha! (That was mad laughter, if you didn’t get it.)

Back in some Southern Californian City, they discover that the game has followed them home and is now… playing for keeps! The words “truth or dare” appear on walls, on cars, on their flesh and in the mouths of friends. If they play honestly they survive, but the consequences may still be ghastly. If they don’t play they die. Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha!

The internal logic makes little sense in the opening third and becomes impossible to follow by the busy close. It is simply not fair on the audience to allow the malign entity to break its own rules. That probably happens in the denouement, but it’s hard to tell by that point.

For all that, Truth or Dare is good fun. We are lucky to live at a time where we get endless quality horror such as A Quiet Place, The Witch, Hereditary, Ghost Stories and (a very different Blumhouse joint) Get Out.

But there has always been a place for good, honest trash. The actors give it their all. There are some super squirmy moments. There’s a nice effect that turns surrounding citizens into madly gurning versions of Conrad Veidt in Paul Leni’s The Man Who Laughed. There’s even a decent bit of dime-store utilitarianist philosophy.

Can’t say I look forward to the inevitable sequels, mind.