‘Its screenplay is credited as being written by four people and you can tell’
2018 in Cinema:
Truth or Dare
Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Landon Liboiron
A couple of reviews ago I noted how only one in every 100 horror films is really good and how A Quiet Place was that one. Truth or Dare is well-and-truly part of the 99. Hilariously advertised as being from the producer of Happy Death Day and Get Out, both very good movies, this film is about a game of truth or dare between a group of friends who soon realise the game itself is cursed with three simple rules:
- Tell the truth or you die
- Do the dare or you die
- Play the game or you die
And, yes, this is seriously a film about a haunted game of truth or dare.
In all seriousness, though, part of me was actually excited about this film. Not excited for it to be a decent film, but to bring back all those memories of my adolescent years playing truth or dare at parties, and, as silly as the idea of the plot is, I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen this used before. And, based on this result, I doubt we will any time soon.
Let’s start with some positives, though: the visuals aren’t too bad for a horror film. When possessed by the game the character sees faces with an extra-large grin as they ask ‘truth or dare?’ and sometimes the camera angles to show this are pretty decent; switching from the perspective of those seeing the strange faces to those who aren’t in a nice fashion. And the acting isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen. There are some nice moments where they sell the fear they are feeling. Although with regards to the actors: Lucy Hale (who plays Olivia) is 28; Tyler Posey (who plays Lucas) is 26; Hayden Szeto (who plays Brad) is 32; Landon Liboiron is 27; and Nolan Gerard Funk (who plays Tyson) is 31. The others (Violett Beane who plays Markie and Sophia Ali who plays Penelope) are early 20s and a bit more respectable, but these characters are 19. They’re college students off to celebrate spring break and play truth or dare. It’s extremely hard to buy into that when it is obvious that Tyson is not a 19-year-old man. While the acting isn’t the worst and none of them should be too embarrassed by their performances, the decision to cast actors much older than their characters is ridiculous.
Yes, this film is a cash-grab to teenagers who have played truth or dare. Yes, it’s a generic run-of-the-mill horror film with stupid jump scares (one jump scare occurs when a friend taps another friend on the shoulder; how is that scary?) But does the script need to be this terrible? Its screenplay is credited as being written by four people and you can tell. Aside from the poor dialogue and pretty shoddy explanations of the film’s plot, the game itself is also open to many inconsistencies throughout the film. Firstly with Olivia’s character. In the game in the church she chooses truth, then when the faces start pressuring her on her first time experiencing the curse she chooses truth. However, later on she chooses dare (despite their plan to always choose truth to avoid doing anything ridiculous) because she has a secret that she possibly cannot tell to Markie. This moment is about half-way through the film; where has this secret come from? Why did you choose truth the first time when Markie was in the room? And later on (spoiler alert, by the way) she chooses dare and the game dares her to tell the secret.
It also changes its mind half-way through on what options they can choose; one moment they all decide to constantly choose truth but the game soon changes itself so they can only choose two truths and a dare. Why the sudden rule change? There is a nice moment of dialogue (just the one) and it’s an arc that carries throughout the filmas the friendship between Olivia and Markie is tested, and by the end she’s completely changed her answer from the start, which is quite nice, but nowhere near enough to warrant a higher score. And, speaking of Markie and Olivia’s friendship, they argue in this film. A lot. From a brief spat in Mexico (where it’s revealed in the game that Olivia is secretly in love with Markie’s boyfriend, Lucas), then back at home (after making up) they argue again, then (after making up) they argue again, then (after making up) they argue again. It’s a repetitive narrative that becomes really old, really fast, especially as the film focuses more time on them (meaning it’s obvious they’re going to be the ones surviving towards the end).
And one final rant about the screenplay: nobody cares about their friends dying. Tyson watches a video of Ronnie (Sam Lerner, 25) dying repeatedly (I know it’s established they don’t like Ronnie and he forced himself to join their game but that’s still low), and moments after people die they just simply don’t care. They cry a bit in the immediacy, but that’s it. I can’t go into too much detail about this point without spoiling who lives and who dies, but I will point out that after Ronnie’s death, he’s never mentioned again by name. And that’s a recurring trend.
From the stupid decision to have the opening credits full of Snapchat/Instagram filters to the decision to borrow trends from films such as Rings (not a great film to borrow stuff from) and Final Destination and all the jump scares and poor storytelling in-between, Truth or Dare is not a good film, and is clearly designed to rob teenagers of their pocket money by haunting a game they’re probably playing from time to time.
Plot: * Acting: * * Writing: * Presentation: * *