By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Blumhouse Productions has become the leading name in modern horror cinema. Their output of horror features has grown prolifically through the years with a variety of films of varying qualities. Jason Blumhouse and his company have even produced critically acclaimed films such as Get Out, The Gift, Whiplash, and more recently, Upgrade (which played SXSW this year). Not all of their movies have been winners though, and their latest release, Truth or Dare, definitely falls short, despite some strong performances, compelling character development and some solid scares.
Lucy Hale stars as Olivia, a sweet and good-hearted college senior who always wants to help those in great need. For her final spring break, Olivia plans to spend her time working for Habitat For Humanity, but her best friend Markie (Violett Beane) has other plans for her and their group of close friends. Markie cancels Olivia’s noble plans and convinces her to join the rest of the group on their trip to Mexico. While there, Olivia meets and is attracted to a charming stranger, named Carter (Landon Liboiron), who later convinces her and the others to play a game of “Truth or Dare” in an old abandoned building. Upon their return to the States, Olivia, Markie and the rest are forced by an unknown party to continue the game, but with deadly risks.
Written and directed by Jeff Wadlow who co-wrote the screenplay with Jillian Jacobs, Michael Reisz, and Christopher Roach (based on a story by Michael Reisz), Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare does get off to a promising start, has some decent development of some characters, but can’t seem to avoid going into silly and corny territory. The film does deliver some great shocks and scares, but also has some laughable and frustrating scenarios. These problems do definitely take away for the gravity and scariness of it all. Also, the film’s ending plays out somewhat sloppily with a main character making a seriously, out-of-character decision that I just couldn’t believe. I feel that this key moment was handled the way it was simply to set up the possibility of a sequel.
Despite some of the goofy and cheesy moments, most of the cast performs well and helps keep the movie’s stakes on more serious ground. Lucy Hale brings real charisma to her lead role as Olivia, making her a very likable and empathetic character. Violett Beane performs mostly well as her “bad girl” best friend Markie. Markie’s boyfriend Lucas is portrayed by Tyler Posey, who has a mix of great and not-so-great scenes. Specifically, some of his more intense and dramatic moments come across as forced. As for the rest of the friends/acquaintances, Sophia Ali, Landon Liboiron, Nolan Gerald Funk, and Sam Lerner offer solid work, but their characters suffer from limited character development.
And though I didn’t completely hate this movie, I am a little disappointed that Blumhouse’s mostly winning streak has stalled with their latest film. As many movies as the studio releases, I suppose it was only a matter of time before the horror label put out one that just couldn’t achieve the greatness of their recent films. Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare is definitely not a daring film by any stretch, but to tell the truth, it does succeed in delivering some goofy horror entertainment. This is one I’d casually recommend watching through a home video format and skipping its theatrical run.