Truth or Dare (2018) (Review)


Blumhouse have ruled the horror house for some time now, cultivating a streak of horror brilliance as of late. Split became a breakout smash at the beginning of last year, quickly followed by the runaway success of Get Out (which picked up a Best Picture nomination and Best Original Screenplay gong at the 2018 Oscars) and topped off the year with the surprisingly solid Happy Death Day. They aim for similar with Truth or Dare, starring Lucy Hale and directed by Jeff Wadlow, but fall drastically short -- this tawdry release is as lazy as it is lame.

Olivia Barron (Hale) and her friends spend their final Spring Break partying in Mexico but become entangled in a deadly game of truth or dare that follows them home. The teen supernatural-slasher film also stars Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto and Landon Liboiron and aims for the same target audiences as Christopher B. Landon's Happy Death Day; when that release surprised most of us last Autumn, we hoped this streak Blumhouse had sustained would continue growing -- but they really drop the ball here.

Unintentionally hilarious and without a proper, effective scare in its entire 100 minute runtime, Truth or Dare is neither scary nor inventive enough to provide audiences with a good time. Reminiscent of last year's Flatliners remake (which everyone either hated or didn't bother seeing in the first place), 2016's Nerve (just without the flair and charm that made that Lionsgate release rather decent summer counter-programming) and Landon's well-received slasher, Truth or Dare is a cheap, shoddy mishmash of genre conventions and wooden tropes we've seen countless times before -- almost always done to a higher standard. There's so very little to redeem this woeful misstep.

Unashamedly, Truth or Dare sticks to a very rigid horror template that sucks any originality or stamp of identity out of it. The four-person screenplay features some incredibly clunky dialogue and blindly obvious plot developments; it lands on one twist as predictable as it is toe-curling, and while the ending is a little bolder, you cannot help but eye-roll your way out of the screening. Those with very low expectations might find some enjoyment in this trashy genre piece, but with the likes of A Quiet Place and even Ghost Stories gracing our cineplexs currently, you'll almost certainly find more enjoyment elsewhere.

Do the performances save any face? No, not really. Hale gives a valiant leading performance but cannot salvage such a ridiculous idea, playing it far too seriously to be enjoyed. Unlike Jessica Rothe in Happy Death Day, Hale plays it so intensely all of the time that you feel the fun slowly seeping away -- if it ever had any to begin with. Her supporting performers are pretty lifeless as well, with gaudy, irritating turns all but across the board. It's more the script than the performers, but nobody really helps themselves.

Slick visuals turn Truth or Dare into a glossy affair, but one with neither the violence or imagination to elevate the film any. It's glossy presentation, I'd argue, does more it more of a disservice; the slasher moments are pretty tame all things considered, lacking any memorable set pieces or deaths. It's so empty, a half-baked, hollow horror that stains the Blumhouse reputation.

★★★☆☆
(3/10)

Summary: Truth or Dare is as lame as it is lazy, predictably awful with more eye-rolls than effective scares. Blumhouse's latest, a tawdry supernatural-slasher, unfortunately halts their impressive run of brilliant original content. Don't play this game.