Movie review: 'Truth or Dare' plays like a typical scary teen flick

Fred Hawson

Posted at May 10 2018 02:31 PM

A scene from the latest Blumhouse flick 'Truth or Dare.' Handout

Blumhouse Productions have been at the forefront of low-budget horror films ever since they hit the big time with their first film "Paranormal Activity" (2009). Ever since, practically all the major horror films you can think of in the last 10 years came out of Blumhouse, like "Insidious" (2011), "Sinister" (2012), "The Purge" (2013), "Ouija" (2014). In 2017, three of its films gained critical acclaim, "Split", "Happy Death Day" and "Get Out" (which went all the way to gain an Oscar nomination for Best Picture).

Its latest film is about a curse attached to the common game of "Truth or Dare." Six college friends led by Olivia and her best friend Markie go on a trip to Mexico for debauchery. They were invited by a charming stranger Carter to have drinks at the ruins of an old abandoned mission house. There, Carter proposed to play "Truth or Dare," which they did. However after that night, the game followed them back to their college. They soon found out that they could not refuse it, lest they die a gruesome death.

Coming off from a banner year 2017, so far the Blumhouse output for 2018 is not at par so far. Their first film of 2018 "Insidious: The Final Key" was just okay. "Truth or Dare" is just a typical horror curse film that does not exactly bring anything new to the table. Young people gathered together, making unwise decisions that eventually draw them into some unfortunate supernatural danger which they need to find a solution to before all of them get wiped out. Typical. Director Jeff Wadlow even had to co-write the script with three other people even if the story seemed straightforward enough. 

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Olivia Barron was played the lead actress Lucy Hale (from TV's "Pretty Little Liars") had the appeal of a young Anne Hathaway with her big expressive eyes. It seemed unlikely how a mature girl like Olivia would be close friends with someone like Markie, as played by Violett Beane, who was actually seven years Hale's junior in real life. 

Markie's boyfriend Lucas was played by Tyler Posey, TV's "Teen Wolf" and Jennifer Lopez's child in "Maid in Manhattan" back in 2002. While the other young actors were just fodder for the various kills of the game demon, Hayden Szeto stood out for his portrayal of the gay friend Brad.

Those fond of gory death scenes will be disappointed as there was hardly any blood and the deaths were merely hinted at and happened off cam. There was no kill scenes as graphic as those "Final Destination" (which seemed to inspire the whole slick look of this film) where the kills were more imaginative and scary. The idea of the possessed smirk prior to asking "Truth or Dare?" was bizarre and funny, but a distinctive detail nevertheless. 

This seems to target the teen audience with its attractive cast of young stars and simple jump scares, but more mature viewers of horror will most likely find the proceedings hopelessly benign. 4/10 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."