When I first saw the trailer for Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (2018), I was excited at the prospect of a horror film with a premise so laughably dumb that some sick enjoyment could be taken from it. Unfortunately, Truth or Dare is yet another embarrassing, pandering, and tone-deaf horror flick, suffering from mediocre characters, inconsistent logic, and a general lack of originality.
When Olivia (Lucy Hale) and her friends go to Mexico for spring break, the gang gets tricked into a game of Truth or Dare haunted by an evil spirit. Now at the whims of a Mexican demon, it’s up to our heroes to survive long enough to break free of this spirit’s cursed game. The characters in this story are about as deep as a rain puddle. Olivia is a goodie two-shoes who sacrifices herself for others, the Main Boy™ acts as the center of a forced love-triangle, and there’s a closeted gay character whose entire personality is the fact that he’s gay. You have the Girlfriend™ character, the horny jerk character, and Markie (Violette Beane), who’s only memorable feature aside from having a dead dad was the fact she looked like Lisa from Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (2003). It goes without saying that the cast of characters are clearly designed as fodder for the demon’s string of forced suicides and clearly telegraphed jump-scares.
I find it hard to believe that four writers worked on this project and never thought to turn this movie into a satire of the horror genre. Many of the dare scenes feel like they were directly inspired by the premise of the Final Destination film franchise, to the point that I had to ask why I wasn’t just watching a parody of such movies. Characters in the film even actively make fun of the film’s premise, calling the goofy CGI Joker grin used by the demon a “messed up snapchat filter”, and replying to the prospect of playing Truth or Dare with a resounding “what are we, in 7th grade?” Truth or Dare expects these moments of self-admittance to excuse the fact that this film takes itself far too seriously despite having such a ridiculous premise.
This film is desperate to be taken seriously, but isn’t aware that they’ve selected a premise that’s completely comical in nature. Phrases such as “we can’t change the past, but we still have a future”, and “this game’s too smart, we’re not playing it, it’s playing us” are used by our main characters with utmost sincerity. About halfway through the film, the demon randomly decides to change the rules of the game so our main characters can’t keep picking truth, which naturally becomes an issue for the demon at the climax of the film, when he straight up joins this haunted game of truth or dare himself. Plus, just when you think horror movies ran out of ways to forcefully shove sex scenes into the narrative, the demon of Truth or Dare comes along and makes boning a part of the game. It’s embarrassing when a film takes two characters from a love triangle, makes them have sex with each other under the threat of possession-induced suicide, and you have to say it wasn’t played up for laughs.
This serious tonal issue only gets worse the longer the film gets. Despite already listing a handful of the most ridiculous moments in this tonally confused movie, I’d be remiss not to vaguely mention the ending of this film. Though the movie ends on what’s supposed to be a dark note, the hard cut into the credits greets us with a bouncy, happy pop song. Ironically, this final sequence perfectly encapsulates the entire film: a ridiculous premise drowned in so much melodrama that audiences get left choking on the backwash.
Maybe it goes without saying that hoping for any positive experiences from Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare is a fool’s errand. The nicest thing I can say about Truth or Dare is it’s a cheap, unoriginal horror film designed to milk money out of teenagers who’ll regret ever liking such a film in five years’ time.
George Ibarra is a Senior at Florida International University, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a minor in Sociology, along with Certificates in Exile Studies and Film Studies.