Truth or Dare

 

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A group of college friends start dying off when they refuse to stick to the rules of a Truth or Dare game they began on holiday in Mexico.

 

truth or dare 

No smiling matter: Lucy Hale

 

Demons do get around. The one in this generic horror film has the audacity to possess a game. The diversion in question, a game not dissimilar to the one featured in the 2016 techno-thriller Nerve, turns a group of close-knit college friends against each other. If one of their number either lies or refuses to follow up a dare, they will die (gruesomely).

 

The strength of the premise is that most of us would rather not expose some aspect of our lives to somebody else. The weakness is that the dares the students are asked to carry out are rather over-the-top. This particular coterie seems to possess more secrets than a White House administration and only slowly begin to realise that their bond of friendship is their best bet for survival.

 

With films like A Quiet Place and Get Out showing us how good horror can be with a bit of subtext and intelligence, Truth or Dare drags the genre back into the murk. Ultimately, any horror film or thriller is only as effective as the empathy one can extend to the characters and this set of well-scrubbed Californian mannequins looks like they’ve stumbled off a shopfront window display. All the girls are supermodel perfect with perfect teeth and perfect diets and the lads obviously play a lot of football, while the token ethnic minority and gay friend is conveniently rolled into one.

 

And so the film traces the Ten Little Indians template perpetrated by such horror series as Friday the 13th and Final Destination, but with less wit and ingenuity. The genuinely disturbing element is that it took four scriptwriters to come up with the story and that the unsatisfactory conclusion leaves the concept open for more of the same.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Landon Liboiron, Nolan Gerard Funk, Sophia Taylor Ali, Sam Lerner, Aurora Perrineau.

 

Dir Jeff Wadlow, Pro Jason Blum, Screenplay Michael Reisz, Jillian Jacobs, Chris Roach and Jeff Wadlow, Ph Jacques Jouffret, Pro Des Melanie Jones, Ed Sean Albertson, Music Matthew Margeson, Costumes Lisa Norcia.

 

Blumhouse Productions-Universal Pictures.

99 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 13 April 2018. Cert. 15.