Truth or Dare

Director: Robert Heath

Notable Cast:  Liam Boyle, Jack Gordon, Florence Hall, Jennie Jacques, Tom Kane, Jason Maza, David Oakes, Alexander Vlahos

Rating: R

Review:  Turning innocent childhood games into horror tales comes too easy, twisting our youth into something gruesome.  So harmless right?  Truth or Dare:  The bottle lands on you, and the player either incurs embarrassment created by another player or surrenders a long held secret.  So, to mess with your memories, Robert Heath introduced the aspect of death into your favorite sleepover game, penned by Matthew McGuchan.  Truth 0r Dare draws upon torture horror clichés to further an avoidable plot, while young British lives hang in the balance.  To start, house music kicked in during a party scene and all I could think about was “here comes another Demons Never Die….”  Well, Natobomb wasn’t far off.  Just like Demons Never Die, Truth or Dare offers moments of horror excitement while blending in migrane causing plot flaws enough to drive a viewer insane.  My favorite part of Heath’s horror?  Jennie Jacques.  Watch out for this budding British scream queen, dubbed 100% my new celebrity crush as she continues climbing the ranks of female horror actresses in the now such as Danielle Harris and Sheri Moon Zombie.  But sadly, there exists a film outside of watching Jacques, which is begging for some scrutiny.   Sorry Robert, but you’ll probably want a dare option over hearing this hard truth.

At a wild University party, four friends plan to end their semester on a high note.  Paul (Boyle), Chris (Gordon), Eleanor (Jacques), and Gemma (Hall) mix with dealer Luke (Vlahos) to “enhance” their experience (well, the guys at least), and a good time is had by all.  Except socially awkward loner Felix (Kane) that is.  In true love triangle fashion Felix lusts for Gemma, but Gemma dates typical dick Chris.  Finally building up the confidence with a little help from Luke, Felix spills his feels to the blonde sweetheart but to no avail.  Gemma lightly lets him down, keeping him in good spirits and treating him with respect.  Then Eleanor pulls out an empty bottle and starts a rousing game of truth or dare with the entire party.  On Felix’s turn, the timid boy obviously selects truth.  Eleanor’s truth involves Felix picking one girl at the party he would choose to be with for a night, and of course he ends up picking Gemma.  Chris doesn’t take too kindly to the advance, and sucker punches Felix in front of all.  Well, fast forward to after break and the friends are invited to Felix’s wealthy estate for a birthday party.  Greeted by his brother Justin (Oakes), he reveals Felix missed his flight home from Chile and simply forgot to cancel with them.  Offering free food and booze, Justin insists a party still be had.  And then he takes out that fateful bottle, starting a game of truth or dare no player will likely forget…

Nice couples costume pairing?  Dorothy and Hawaiian?

Truth or Dare strives to challenge the confines of tortue horror with fresh presentation,  but leaves cavernous gaps throughout scripting.  I don’t do this often, but spoilers are going to follow as these details have to be shed from my chest.  The mad genius orchestrating chaos (Justin) is an expertly trained British soldier who survived three tours in Afghanistan (I believe), yet can be wrestled down by a lowly drug dealer?  He also trusts one of the characters (Luke) who arrives with the slew of victims as his little patsy, even presenting him with a firing arm which Luke is capable of using to free his “friends” at any time?  Some pretty serious flaws from the mind of a military tactical genius.  Luke is what we like to call a liability, something a true revenge bent psychopath would not tolerate.  Oh and while we’re on Luke, and given the information discovered by those who have indulged cinematically already, why the hell wasn’t Luke knocking Justin off and bolting?  He cradled a gun with three rounds placed at random, so I understand the mentality he has a 50/50 shot of catching the right chamber.  But how many times did Justin leave him alone?  Why was Luke not opening the weapon to reveal where the bullets lay?  Justin may have been a war machine, but impervious to a headshot he is not.  The whole dynamic between Justin and Luke bugged me itself, enough so I could even let Gemma’s antics slide after she bolts.  Truth or Dare was written without much attention being paid to either word, relying too heavily on situation mentalities and providing no focus for the character’s big survival picture.

Performances entertained more than expected cast wise though, which was a pleasant surprise.  Already established is my praise for Jenny Jacques, and Eleanor played to a broader spectrum than just the ditzy damsel in distress.  No, Eleanor goes from suspected side character to devious survivor girl on the flick of a switch.  Jacques dives into some creepy territory towards Truth or Dare’s climax, turning Eleanor into McGuchan’s most interestingly crafted character.  Not to mention there’s an unsettling evil glint in Jacques’s eye, which works perfectly towards Eleanor’s always changing demeanor.  David Oakes played the part of remorseless older brother well at least, even if his character writing was flawed.  Same goes for Alexander Vlahos in his portrayal of Luke.  The rest were just pawns in Justin’s sick game, but acting prevented Truth or Dare from falling into the “sh$tty story, sh*tty acting, sh%tty movie” category.  Somewhat.

Truth:  Yet another horror movie that underperforms due to shoddy plot-lines.  Dare: Argue Heath’s latest effort is the “next big thing.”  I don’t know, maybe because of all the horror films I cram in my skull my expectations are only rising.  Sure, Truth or Dare holds some fun horror moments, but nothing gasp worthy.  Some pools of blood, a dead body here or there…another walk in the park.  Not to mention audience members will be five steps ahead of the script, offering no big reveal as the film twists and turns.  Maybe not to the degree Heath takes it, but blatant foreshadowing generally prevents any suspenseful present to be unwrapped.  Childish fun with regrettable consequences, just like playing Truth or Dare in real life.

Final Rating: 5 truths for every one dare anyway out of 10

Going to assume that one was a dare…..

-Natobomb

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About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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