Olivia and Markie have been best friends since high school. Now at university together, they head off for their last Spring Break in Mexico with a group of their closest friends. At a bar on the last night of their holiday, Olivia lets a cute guy buy her a drink and convinces her friends to head off with him to a spooky house to have a few last drinks. When they end up playing a game of Truth Or Dare, the friends soon find that they’ve started something they can’t finish. Something evil within the game won’t let them stop playing. If they refuse to play, they die, if they choose “dare” they may not survive, and if they choose truth, their lives might be destroyed by the secrets they hide from each other.
The idea that a game could be haunted isn’t new, but one that doesn’t have a physical component is a novel idea. There’s no board or props in a game of Truth Or Dare. Truth or Dare is also fun because it seems to be harmless, and yet there’s something mean spirited about the game, when you think about it. It’s designed to be a no win game, where either way you incriminate or embarrass yourself. There is something dark about the whole idea, and it makes a nice dark heart for a scary story. The film explores this idea, taking it to it’s darkest places, and has fun with itself. It has interesting twists and turns, which I won’t spoil for you, and it also has been thought through pretty well, there are no plot holes or moments where you think “why don’t they just (insert genius escape idea here)”, other than the opening idea that the group would follow a stranger to an abandoned building.
In a film like this, the emphasis is not so much on character, but on concept and story, but this film actually does have nicely delineated characters. In some ways, the characters are modern stock types, but not overly so. There’s the classic horror movie sleaze, who you kind of want to see die. The boyfriend that helps the lead chick. The lead chick who cares about things like the environment and her grades. The blonde who is a bit too promiscuous for her own good. But this feels satisfying and familiar, and little twists on the characters give them more depth and interest. The boyfriend who helps the female lead? He’s not her boyfriend, but is with her best friend. And the most important relationship is not between romantic partners, but between the two girls, who have helped each other through hard times (and who might have some interesting, twisty secrets to hide). It has a nice way of ticking the teen horror genre characters off the list, but also updating them a bit too.
The film feels quite modern and shiny, as you would expect from a high budget horror. The characters use Facebook and Google to find information, and have YouTube channels and are constantly on their phones. The characters quip with each other, but unlike a lot of recent horrors, the dialogue is not littered with comedic moments. There are times when it does feel a little cheesey, but it’s part of the fun. As the game stalks the characters, there are some great moments of tension and scares, you think one thing is coming, but another thing does. And there are some really creative and spooky ways that the game talks to the characters, including through the creepy smiling faces you’ll have seen in the trailers.
It’s a cool, fun concept for a horror film, and it’s nicely and professionally executed (no pun intended). It’s a genuinely entertaining watch, but whether or not this film is for you really comes down to what kind of horror films you like. It’s really a teen horror in the old school mold, and for some scary movie lovers, it won’t feel original enough. It’s more of a crowd pleaser and feels like it’s aimed at teens and college age viewers, however, I’m not that age group and really enjoyed just going with this film and enjoying the ride.
Truth or Dare is out in cinemas now!