Blumhouse Productions is a blessing for small-time filmmakers considering how much of a profit they manage to score for films that are made on low budgets. But because of how many films they produce within a single year, it is never easy to predict whether or not these films will be good, let alone great ones. Once in a while, you’ll get a good film let alone a great one like Get Out (which I believe to be the studio’s best outing thus far) but their large output would never guarantee consistency – and that brings us to Truth or Dare. This film, known by its own advertising as Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, is yet another dull supernatural horror film that never seems to understand the demographic that it’s aiming for nor how to play even by its own rules – but given its own label there’s so much of this that could work if only it was played like a pulpy exploitation film. Sadly, that is not the case here.
This film revolves around a deadly game of “truth or dare?” that follows a group of college students who play the game while they are on a trip to Mexico. At first they play it harmlessly, but as it followed them on their way back home, they are forced to tell either the truth or follow along with a dare otherwise they will die. I think that would be everything one needs to know about the premise in order to get an idea of what they were to expect from watching Truth or Dare but it’s never played out to the degree where you know the people behind it are truly encompassing what makes it fun. There’s a whole lot of room for camp here especially with the nature of the film’s premise, but this isn’t a film that ever really feels confident enough even to play along with that.
You can already feel how this film never has enough energy to play along with its own premise from the fact that it’s all played out so tame. This isn’t a problem made by its own PG-13 rating but the way the film seems to understand its own audience, and it rang clear enough from the opening credits which just scrolls through the main characters and what they post all over social media. It’s annoying enough that films like this come by to pit how social media is used in order to make themselves feel better about what they are trying to say, but this never feels nearly as egregious until the film’s very ending. Not only was it made far too obvious from the opening, but it also says a whole lot more about the characters that were playing “truth or dare” than I know I could take – they weren’t just dumb but so clearly superficial, not even to the point the film seems aware of it.
Going back to the film’s PG-13 rating, you can already feel the potential for something darker especially within the nature of its premise because of how increasingly dangerous the dares get but the way in which the film is edited to ensure said rating would already show that the film doesn’t even want to do so much more with its idea. That’s not to say every good horror movie must be rated R considering how well this year’s A Quiet Place had managed to succeed with its PG-13 rating, but there’s no reason for this film to be PG-13 if this film is taking itself nearly half as seriously as it is when you know how superficial it feels. This isn’t a case of violence not being present only for the sake of trying to draw in a larger demographic but if the film, by nature, feels this violent, then why cut back on what could be potential for more elaborate set pieces?
Truth or Dare is a confused movie, because it feels like a horror movie that is made for the Snapchat generation (it’s remarked that the smile from the advertising looks exactly like a Snapchat filter) but it doesn’t even stick by its own rules nor does it understand the demographic it’s aiming to reach. It’s never aware of how stupid it really is by nature and takes itself ridiculously seriously, but the moment it starts to invent its own rules only ends up becoming the film’s own breaking point – because the deaths initiated by either a lie or a dare don’t ever feel scary but are just so boring. For every bit as admirable as Blumhouse’s game can be for smaller filmmakers, it can’t always be room for a clever mind behind the camera like Jordan Peele – all we got here is the guy who directed Kick-Ass 2 and a Kevin James Netflix film.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Universal Pictures.
Directed by Jeff Wadlow
Screenplay by Michael Reisz, Jillian Jacobs, Chris Roach, Jeff Wadlow
Produced by Jason Blum
Starring Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Sophia Taylor Ali, Landon Liboiron
Release Year: 2018
Running Time: 100 minutes