Would you like to play a game?
Truth or Dare is the latest from Blumhouse Productions, the powerhouse behind such great horror as Get Out, Insidious, The Purge series and many more. The film is written and directed by Jeff Wadlow (Kick Ass 2), starring singer Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey (MTV’s Teen Wolf), Violett Bean (CW’s The Flash), and several other attractive young people.
Truth or Dare begins with a young, manic woman, who we later learn is named Giselle, seemingly fleeing the country. Soon after crossing the border, she pulls up to a grocery store in Mexico. Inside, she hears a voice from the cashier asking her “Truth or Dare” and she chooses dare. She then walks over and sets a woman on fire. And we’re off!
Cut to, a southern Californian college campus, where we meet Olivia. She is posting a video to her very popular YouTube channel, asking everyone to join her in skipping out on Spring Break partying and come volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Quickly, she establishes herself as the responsible core of their group of friends. In comes her bestie Markie who, you guessed it, wants Olivia to go to Mexico to party party and skip on all that humanitarian business. I don’t want to shock you, but Olivia relents and joins the fun. So the friends embark on a road trip south of the border, joining up with four more members of their inner circle: Lucas (Tyler Posey), Penelope (Sophia Ali), Tyson (Nolan Funk) and Brad (Hayden Szeto).
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Fast forward a bit through drinking, dancing, some great establishing shots from cellphone POV, and we arrive at a party on the gang’s last night in Mexico. I mean, what could go wrong on the last night? They meet a new friend named Carter (Landon Liboiron of Hemlock Grove fame), who knows where they can party after the bars close. I know many of you devoted horror fans will never guess this, but this is where the bad stuff starts to happen. I know, right? Who would’ve thought?
“The [Catholic] Mission is chock full of creepy religious imagery, wonderfully covered in dust and regret.”
The exterior shots of the Catholic Mission he leads them to are impressive, but the really good stuff is all inside. The mission is chock full of creepy religious imagery, wonderfully covered in dust and regret. They continue to get their drink on and Carter convinces the group to play….Truth or Dare. Once they’ve all had a turn, he bolts, but not before explaining that the game is real and will follow them. The news rules are simple: Refuse to answer and you die. Pick truth and lie and you die. Pick dare and don’t go through with it, you live. No, just kidding, you die.
Naturally, they dismiss this. When they return to campus, alas, they find out it’s for realz! Turns out Carter only got them in the game on the theory that having more people play means it is longer before it is your turn again. They soon learn the game has them each take a turn, one at a time, in the order they played at the mission. That means Olivia is first. As she enters the library looking for Markie, tons of her fellow students suddenly suffer facial transformations, surround her and demand she answer ‘truth or dare.’ Her answer causes immediate consequences, as in this moment the group learns that only they can see their peers transformations and questions. This is why, in the beginning, it seemed a voice was coming from the cashier and said cashier seemed unaware anything was happening.
This ends up being a great storytelling device. Since only the person experience a turn knows the tern is happening, the rest of the group is unaware. This often makes it difficult for them to know who is under the influence of the game and who is, well, just being divisive or psychotic. It also makes it much tougher to convince the authorities of what is going on. I’m not going to give each death or drama-inducing truth away but, suffice it to say, one domino falls after another.
I’m not really sure what part of the horror family this flick belongs in. Is it a possession movie? A retro ‘dangerous game’ style movie? Or is it just a doomed teenage group movie like Final Destination? In a way, it’s a bit of a infections disease movie, as the game functions a bit like viruses found in many other epidemic horror flicks. If you’re an experience horror lover, it isn’t likely you’ll be very scared, but it’s a well shot, fun ride and full of spooky goodness and nods to your favorite sub-genres.
Truth or Dare was released theatrically nation-wide this Friday the 13th. If you saw Truth or Dare this weekend, let us know what you thought on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and in the Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street Facebook group!