Truth or Dare (2018)

TruthorDarePoster.jpgTo be followed by Hopscotch

Director: Jeff Wadlow
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Starring: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Landon Liboiron, Nolan Gerard Funk, Sophie Ali, Sam Lerner

A trip to Mexico sees a group of friends play a seemingly harmless game of Truth or Dare, until something follows them home, forcing them to continue on the game, or suffer deathly consequences. Director Jeff Wadlow is intent on putting a deadly twist on a childhood game, to try and deliver something akin to Final Destination for the Snapchat generation. Instead, we're given something unbelievably cheap and tacky, feeling incredibly tame and toothless through its over reliance on cheap jump scares, fronted by beings with a laughably distorted face.

The script has been handled by Wadlow, along with three other writers, and none of them seem to bring to the table a reason to care for poorly sketched future-corpses (calling them characters feels like a disservice to actual characters, whom writers actually put effort into). Instead, the belief seems to be that the script should be bogged down by exposition, to keep introducing and justifying the inclusion of new rules. These future-corpses only exist to rack up the body count, as making snarky comments and being drunkenly bi-curious are determined to be enough to pass for characterisation, when really, the majority may as well have "dead weight" tattooed on their foreheads. When reasons to care for them are so non-existent, the irony is evident when the body count rises, and viewers are left stonefaced and feeling nothing, as the convoluted events occur to deliver a disappointing death scene.
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To the credit of the cast, they serve the roles better than cardboard cutouts could have done. The material just gives them nothing to work with, as evidenced by the films two leads. Lucy Hale portrays Olivia, a teen who's an overly angelic do-gooder at every turn, but has the hots for her best friends boyfriend. Any tries to have her be more than that rote arc, which was probably scribbled on the back of a pizza menu, feels unearned, and more like leaps than actual development. Best friend to Olivia is Markie, played by Violett Beane. She's going through a personal tragedy, which Wadlow seems to believe is is an excuse for her to act horrendously, taking everything out on the person who's supposed to be her best friend. As much as the two try to sell their life long friendship, the script believes a half-hearted line suited for an inspirational Instagram picture will do.

For all its faults, there's one moment which especially stands out as problematic, when one of the cast is forced to come out to their father. It's only included to have something to define Hayden Szeto's role, and allows no opportunity to show the aftermath of him being forced to reveal such a personal part of themselves. In a post Love, Simon world, this feels like an antiquated decision to include in a 2018 film.

It's unfair to call Truth or Dare a bottom of the barrel horror film. It may be less scary than an episode of Pointless, as graceful as an enraged Bull in a tutu, and an end product as welcome as Donald Trump to Mexico, but the barrel should not be lumped in with it. By the end, you're left to lose patience with such self-serving future corpses, and will gladly take a power cut just to end this awful experience.

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