Let’s watch the wrong movie.
I had planned on watching the Blumhouse Truth or Dare, and rented this one by accident. The hilarious part is that it was more than an hour into the film that I figured out we were watching the wrong one. Who knew that two films based on the same dumb kid’s game would come out so close to each other?
Anyway, Truth or Dare is about eight friends who visit a haunted house to play the game and see if anything weird happens. Obviously, the game is real and they must play three rounds within 48 hours or they will die.
The film crams about every obnoxious horror movie cliché into one nice package for us to hate. Perhaps the most annoying is that once again we have a group of people who in no real universe would be friends. Granted, this is kind of odd because they are all so cut and paste that I was convinced there were only six of them for about the first half of the movie. Aside from being flat, the characters are also socially appalling. We get casual misogyny, stupid love triangle crap, a creepy camera guy (who is creepy for no reason), and more stupid decisions than you can probably imagine.
A lot of the problems of the film come down to the characters. Even after it becomes clear that something supernatural is going to happen, several of them still argue about what is happening. We also have characters who refuse to answer questions or participate in dates—despite knowing the consequences will be brutal.
Another mis-feature of the film is that the quality hovers around B-movie. Sure, this is a made-for-TV flick, but it still isn’t that well-acted. The set is fine, I guess. We have an oddly clean old house that still has electricity, yet hasn’t been occupied for some time. The dorm rooms seem sanitary and unlived in (almost like a movie set!), and the world just seems empty. We really only interact with our eight people, and only get to see the mystery through their eyes. There is no back-story (aside from a pointless non-intro showing the end of the last game), so what the hell is going on isn’t entirely clear. How in the world they managed to over-engineer and complicate a demonic truth-or-dare game is kind of beyond me.
My annoyance with the story stems from a couple major poor decisions in writing (there are numerous little plot holes or continuity errors, but I’m not going to go into those). First, the dares are way too difficult. Many of them have a 0% chance of survival, and this removes the idea of the game from the movie. Honestly, these folks would have a better chance at surviving Jigsaw from the Saw series than what happens to them here. Either you refuse to play and are killed instantly, or you can torture yourself before dying—great game. Even more frustrating is the time limits to perform the dare—you have to complete the dare in the time or else. However, they phrase it as though you just have to be working on the dare, but they don’t mean that. A character can be in the process of doing the dare when the times up, and guess what? Too bad.
The other dumb aspect of the story is that it isn’t truth-or-date, but rather: dare. In the dozen or so challenges we get two truth requests, and none of the characters are given a choice. Sure, giving them this choice would wreck the movie, but it still creates a problem with the story.
Somehow, the whole thing ends up being at least entertaining to finish. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a good film, but it isn’t a complete disaster either. I think the only comparison I can give is that this film is like daytime TV. It is tropey, stupid, and predictable, but manages to do things with at least a basic level of competence to allow us to zone out to it. If you can stream it, and need a mainstream horror film, this one might be workable.
I wonder if the theatrically released Truth or Dare is any better.