Truth or Dare is the model of what to do and what not to do in a horror film.
Step one – always, always find that great premise. The one that sets you apart and lets people be scared of something new. The thought of being forced into a supernatural game of truth or dare where if you refuse to play, you die, or if you don’t follow through, you die, looked like it had nailed it.
Blumhouse, producers of prime shockers Get Out, Split and The Gift, have delivered more than one hit that plays not only on the grisly but on our morbid, ever-present and inherently more relatable fear of upsetting social conventions or even niceties. Truth or Dare is at it’s best when you can feel each player’s tension, struggling with those truth-bombs or awful eventualities on which no one really wants to follow through.
With an able cast plucked from long-running serials, Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars), Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf) and Violett Beane (The Flash) round out a rag-tag group of misfits you will largely struggle to root for or even like. Yes we see these characters at their very worst, but the general lack of even passingly commensurate empathy or attrition evinced by almost any for their dead friends or their own deeds, historic, present, forced or otherwise, makes it hard to barrack for or invest in one or another.
Truth or Dare falls into yet more of it’s genre’s trappings as reliably unreliable cops enter the scene and certain mannerisms and character tropes, in the well-worn traditions of like horror, make it abundantly clear who will die, and in what order. With several participants it would generally be hard to discern the sequence of fatalities, though even casual horror fans won’t be hard-pressed with this series of mostly uncreative denouements that have clearly sought to emulate the trials of Final Destination. The notable exception is one character who is dispatched in an altogether confronting, surprising sequence as he carries out a fateful dare late in proceedings, though this gut-punch is let down by lingering all too briefly on its consequences and seemingly fleeting impact.
With the premise and performers regretfully let down by a lesser standard of plotting, Truth or Dare promises a great idea patently squandered by poor execution.
Truth or Dare is in cinemas now