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Film Review – Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (2018)

Truth or Dare

Now that Blumhouse routinely pumps out low-budget films that score big at the box office, they have the gall to stick their name in front of a movie as part of the official title.  So, the latest horror film Truth or Dare is technically Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare.

Well, there’s actually another reason for the title other than pure egotism, and we’ll discuss that alongside the reasons why you probably shouldn’t pay to see this movie.

The following review will be spoiler free.

Synopsis

Directed By: Jeff Wadlow

Written By: Jillian Jacobs, Michael Reisz, Christopher Roach, and Jeff Wadlow

Starring: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Landon Liboiron, Sophia Ali, and Nolan Gerard Funk

A group of college students led by Olivia (Hale) head down to Mexico for their last spring break before they all finish school.  After they arrive, Olivia meets a guy named Carter (Landon Liboiron) that gets her and the rest of the gang to play a seemingly harmless game of truth or dare — in abandoned, decrepit church in the middle of nowhere that totally isn’t haunted.

When it comes to Carter’s turn in the game, he reveals that the game is real, and it will continue to haunt every member involved.  As the group quickly begins to figure out for themselves, they must complete the dare or be completely truthful.  Otherwise, they’ll quickly meet their demise.

Background

Everyone knows the game “truth or dare.”  If you were ever thirteen years old, odds are you had to play it and were dared to kiss that one girl or boy you had a crush on.  The film industry knows how popular that game is too, or at least they understand the branding potential of naming a film such a recognizable concept in regular culture.

By now, we all know how Blumhouse Productions operates.  They make films that have high-concept plots and create solid marketing material around them.  Obviously, they would like to make great films every single time, but they never worry if a film appears schlocky or even terrible.  All that matters is money, and Jason Blum and the rest of Blumhouse have a TON of it since they stick to producing such low-budget films.  Knowing that “truth or dare” has been the title of many other films, Jason Blum simply slapped the Blumhouse name in front of it to make its use still possible.  Credit is definitely due to Blum and the rest of his staff.  They just know how to get people to see their movies on opening weekend.

truth or dare

image via CinemaBlend

When a Possible Scare Goes Wrong…Horribly Wrong

Most people who are aware of Truth or Dare know of it because of the odd Snapchat-like effect that is used on people who are infected by the game. It probably worked as a marketing ploy because it was so oddly distinct and memorable that people couldn’t help but remember it.  But, within the context of the film, it’s pretty damn hilarious.  At face value, the derpy CGI effect is a silly image, not a scary one.  In fact, it actually ruins any momentum that a scene might have had as it awkwardly contorts people’s faces into something out of a cartoon.

As the technique is woven into a scene, the editing is often abrupt and quick, causing laughter to become the first — and most understandable — reaction.  Truth or Dare never approaches scary, it’s just plain goofy.  In that sense, it’s better to approach the film as a comedy rather than a horror or thriller.  You’re much more likely to find enjoyment out of it that way.

I mean, just look at Lucy Hale’s face:

truth or dare

image via YouTube

Prepare your memes!

Truth or Dare Never Comes Close to Scary

Rumors are that director Jeff Wadlow took on this project as a dare, creating a story off of just the title of the movie.  When you add that backstory to the melting pot of reasons why Truth or Dare doesn’t work in the way it was intended, it makes a whole mess of sense in explaining the final product.

Truth or Dare feels and looks like a slapped together film in almost every respect.  It’s as if Wadlow and his writing partners had to meet a way-too-optimistic deadline set by the studio.  While this idea is most prevalent in the characters themselves (more on that below), the scares aren’t, well, scary.  Scenes of possible tension and fright are cobbled together without rhyme or reason, capturing what’s in the frame without a sense of style.  When you think about it, creating fear in an audience of people mostly comes about from proper style and staging, and Truth or Dare offers nothing in that regard.  Each moment is captured with a flat, uninteresting look that forces the film to resort to loud bangs and fake-out jump scares to startle the audience into thinking that something terrifying is happening.

In other words, Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare does nothing to distract from its use of a warped Snapchat filter which, again, is downright hilarious.  Everything comes back to the use of that hysterical, ridiculous smile that never ceases being funny.

truth or dare

image via Slash Film

Bad Decisions Both In Front of and Behind the Camera

However, almost everything could be forgiven if Truth or Dare created characters that weren’t awful.

First of all — this message goes out to everyone in Hollywood — can we stop casting actors as college students that are pushing 30?  Lucy Hale is lovely, but she’s 28 years old.  Hell, Hayden Szeto is 32!

It’s a completely different discussion if the writer wrote a role specifically for a certain actor.  But these characters are just so bland that anyone would have performed decently in their place.   Not to mention that each character is just the worst.  In Truth or Dare, a character has one of two options.  1) they can be so bland that they offer nothing but wasted space.  Or 2) they’re so terrible that you hope they lose the deadly game so that the movie ends a few minutes faster than expected.  They’re all mean, and you want them to fail — or to get overcome by that silly stretched-face effect once again.

And if you thought there was a payoff to it all — there isn’t one.  Instead, Truth or Dare finishes with an ending that is selfish, cruel, and lazy.

truth or dare

image via KUTV

Final Thoughts

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare is a folly of a film, failing to create a single scare and often becoming quite funny thanks to a poorly conceived idea for how the game of truth or dare manifests.

But, its worst decisions are in the creation of the characters.  Each one is particularly mean or awful in their own distinct way — which I guess could be a compliment from an ironic point of view.

Still, this movie is going to succeed financially on its $3.5 million budget, so maybe the joke is on everyone who helps Truth or Dare turn a profit.

Grade: F

truth or dare

image via Bloody Disgusting


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Nick Kush

A current college student, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society. You can follow Nick at the official MovieBabble Twitter account @MovieBabble_

9 Responses

  1. fxbg says:

    I agree, 30 somethings should stop playing college kids. Neve Campbell in scream 2 (one of my favorite horror franchises) pulled it off at 24, but still, in the first movie she was in high school at in real life she was 23 lol. Evil Dead, bruce campbell was 23 in real life playing a college guy, believable, much more believable than a 30 something in college.

  2. SpectrumBFF says:

    …this movie looked awful to me on the trailer. I was really surprised to see that NetFlix (USA) lists horror films under comedy now, and comedy under romance (Rom-Coms, I guess). If horror is the new comedy, then I recommend Amy Schumer in “Snatch.” Puke your guts out (don’t get me wrong, it is a great brain-dead movie to play over and over on a 14-hour flight VOD)….my favorite newish horror ones are the really slow and cinema-graphic ones, like “It Comes at Night,” and “Blackcoat’s Daughter,” but “The Ritual,” wasn’t all that great. Now, “The Babysitter,” on the other hand, well, let’s just say that Bella Thorne acts as badly as Paris Hilton did in “Wax Museum,” from way back when.

    • Nick Kush says:

      I HATE Snatched! Lol it was one of my least favorite movies of 2017!

      • SpectrumBFF says:

        Oh come on, if anyone can poke fun at millennial stuff, only Schumer can. She really is awful in it;
        it’s like watching a classic B-Movie. 🙂

      • Nick Kush says:

        Lol I really enjoy Schumer in her other work but I just couldn’t do it with Snatched…even in an ironic sense lol

  3. dunce75 says:

    I saw this on the weekend, and I couldn’t agree more. This film was really underwhelming, not at all scary and all of the reasonable bits were in the trailer anyway. Fortunately I have a membership at the cinema so didn’t have to pay to see it.

  4. Nick Kush says:

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