Cast: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: A harmless game of “Truth or Dare” among friends turns deadly when someone–or something–begins to punish those who tell a lie–or refuse the dare.
Blumhouse Productions has always been a very interesting company for me. They have become the masters of catching lightning in a bottle by creating massive, multi-film empires such as the Paranormal Activity franchise or The Purge franchise, as well as critically acclaimed stand alone films like The Gift and Get Out. Truth or Dare, however, is not an example of them succeeding at either of those things. Everything about this film is unoriginal, from its boring script, to the wooden and unlikable characters, and a world-breaking ending that left me angrier more than anything else, Truth or Dare is a cash-grab in a genre where virtually every film makes money, but very few stand out.
The story follows a group of college seniors as they head off the Mexico for their final spring break. Our protagonist Olivia (Hale) meets a nice boy at a bar named Carter (Landon Liboiron) and the two start to have a good time. Wanting to continue the night after the bar closes, Carter brings Olivia and her friends to an abandoned church where they play a game of Truth or Dare with real consequences. Figuring out that the game followed them back to the U.S. with life or death consequences, the group must find a way to stop the game before it kills them. One of my main issues with this film is that it had no idea what it wanted to be. This film had four writers when it was made, and at times it looks like four separate movies. At times it has these tense, emotional moments, at others it tries to get the audience with some jump scares. More scenes try to make it some dramatic thriller while different ones want it to be about some young adults just having fun. These scenes are inconsistently set up and left me feeling confused as to how we went from one idea to the other. What this film would have benefited from is one consistent idea throughout and to not take itself too seriously. If you want to be a dumb horror movie, be the dumbest one out there. Make your character deaths as over the top and hilarious as possible. At least recognize your situation and have a sense of awareness for what your product is and how you can make it memorable. Some people might argue that since this film is PG-13, it could not go as deep as it wanted to during the horror segments. However, we just saw A Quiet Place use horror, suspense, and character building to help create an environment that instills fear, gives us character motivations, and tells a coherent story, so the rating is a non-issue. Speaking of the characters, I was stunned by either how dislikable or just mythically dumb these people were. All of these characters have baggage and flaws, but some of these people are straight up morally reprehensible. At certain points I really started to root for the demon because of how awful these characters were to each other. The only saving grace was Brad (Szeto), who I felt was an actual human being during the game and that his problems did not seem fake or exaggerated. The actual actors did not do anything to fight this stigma either. Posey might have just given us an early frontrunner for worst performance of the year. As the leading male who is supposed to have feelings for two best friends, Posey manages to suck the joy out of every scene he is in. I cannot take him seriously in times of crisis and his delivery in dramatic scenes is comically bad. The other two leads, Hale and Beane, do not exactly do anything to soften the blow. Hale has moments that are borderline passable, but the rest of the film she brings absolutely no charisma or urgency in a role that really requires it. Beane on the other hand has absolutely zero consistency. At some points she acts way more emotional than what the scene requires, but in others she seems like she does not care at all. This is where a clear direction would have really helped keep an already poorly written film consistent. My final issue with the film is how the ending completely destroys any rule-making that was established earlier in the film. If we knew that the characters at the end could do what they did to the game, then it begs the question, why did Carter not do this immediately at the beginning? The real answer is that this film does not want you to think critically about how it was set up and focus on the cheap moments that everyone saw coming.
Overall, if you watched the trailer for Truth or Dare, then congratulations, you saw about 70% of this movie without the unnecessary and mind-numbing plot. This movie had no idea what it wanted to do or what message it wanted to portray and I spent the whole time wondering when it was going to get better. I understand who this movie was trying to attract, but at the same time you should still make a movie that can be objectively understood or enjoyed by anyone. Unfortunately, this movie was disorganized, dysfunctional, and I left the theater incredibly disappointed.
Overall Score: 2/10