Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Movie Review: Truth or Dare

A minor misfire from the Blumhouse horror factory.

Truth or Dare has one good thing going for it—a disturbingly subtle digital effect that hoists the corners of certain characters' lips into a leering, evil smirk. It's memorably creepy. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie can be forgotten in advance.

Stop me if you've heard something like this before. A group of photogenic youths – SoCal college students in this case—clamber into a van and take off for Mexico, where they've decided to spend spring break. Soon we see them knocking back shots and disporting themselves on festive party patios. In a tourist bar they encounter a broody American guy who suggests that they stop having all this fun and instead decamp for an abandoned mission on a gloomy hilltop. Naturally, all of the youths agree that this is a fine idea. When they arrive, broody guy has another suggestion—let's all play Truth or Dare. Another excellent notion, the kids decide. After a few embarrassing revelations, broody is compelled to tell his own truth—that he is actually offloading an evil game of death on this group in order to save his own life by escaping it. The kids—not complete fools, apparently—fire up their van and head for the border.

Back at the off-campus house they all share, they soon learn that…the game has followed them home! The words "truth or dare" suddenly start popping up everywhere: in an anonymous text, on the skin of one poor guy's arm, keyed onto the side of a car, or simply hissed in a voice that sounds as if it's emanating from the bottom of a grain silo. "The game is playing us," one of the brighter students observes. If only it were scaring us, too.

Along the way here, we also learn some biographical truths about these people that aren't really worth the time it takes to impart them. For example, annoyingly virginal Olivia (Lucy Hale, of Pretty Little Liars) has a crush on Lucas (Tyler Posey, of Teen Wolf), the rather dull boyfriend of Olivia's best friend Markie (Violett Beane, of The Flash). And pre-med student Tyson (Nolan Gerard Funk, of Counterpart) picks up pocket change by writing illicit prescriptions for underclassmen. (Tyson also provides one of the movie's better PG-13 thrills when he suddenly breaks out in that evil smirk and jams a pen into his eye and then slams his face into a wall.)

Although saddled with a meager Blumhouse budget, Director Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2) nevertheless finds ways to pad the movie. There's an overextended sequence in which we watch a drunk girl tottering along the edge of a rooftop above a spiky fence (and then watch, in great disappointment, as she fails to fall on it). Even longer is a silly scene in which the students consult an ancient Mexican woman who knows the secret of something-or-other but can't discuss it directly because her tongue was cut out of her mouth many years ago and she can now communicate only by writing notes (in perfect English, luckily). We also learn that there's a demon involved in the wicked game the students have blundered into, and that he has a name: Kelix (sp?).

The movie is depressing to watch because so little care has gone into it. The visuals are dull and the story lazily generic. The producers must be hoping that the young TV-based cast will deliver a solid opening weekend, but can they expect much beyond that? There's a large hole at the center of this picture where somebody forgot to put the scares.

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Get lit||

    I swear I saw this exact Truth or Dare theme movie on TV recently. The college students were stuck in a haunted house and one by one the evil force made them pick truth or dare. If you tried to leave or otherwise refused to play the house would kill you. I couldn't understand why they didn't just all choose truth and be done with it. For instance one girl had to admit she "used drugs", omg, so she sorta did acknowledge it but also ran out of the house crying and her face was impaled on a fence post so that was weird.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    So, the horror genre is over, right? We can all just admit that and move on to better things?

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Not at all. Regardless if Truth or Dare is successful, Blumhouse recently produced Get Out, a horror movie which is the third best movie of all time, behind only The Wizard of Oz and Citizen Kane.

  • Ship of Theseus||

    You must be joking.

  • StackOfCoins||

    Rotten Tomatoes must be disregarded. It has an obvious agenda that is pushes and spins movie reviews however it needs to arrive at it's conclusion.

    The 2016 Ghostbusters, widely panned and rightfully so, still sits at 73% which is apparently "Certified Fresh" by whatever insane metric they use.

    That being said, Get Out is a fine movie, though not particularly scary.

  • ||

    There have been some fairly decent horror movies the last couple of years. The Autopsy of Jane Doe was quite well done. So was The Invitation. Lots of good stuff recently.

  • The Laissez-Ferret||

    I wouldn't say lots of good stuff. TAOJD was really good, Get Out, and Don't Breathe were all well done. The problem is for every good horror movie made, there are ten that are God-awful redos or poorly made derivatives of other movies.

  • Wizard4169||

    Sturgeon's Law: ninety percent of everything is crap. Just be happy when you find something in the other ten percent.

  • The Laissez-Ferret||

    I don't know. I'd say 90% of the sturgeon I've eaten has been pretty good.

  • BillEverman||

    90% of everything is crap, except for crap, which is pretty much 100% crap.

  • Idle Hands||

    The new poltergeist was one of them. Might have been the worst movie I sat at least 40 min thru.

  • Libertarian||

    Is this the future of libertarian bots?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I knew a Basil Varghes once. Nice guy. Met him on a pornography forum when I was a kid.

  • Árboles de la Barranca||

    cheap bastards, mine is worth a lot more than that!

  • Ken Shultz||

    Just for the record, when you're right out of high school in San Diego, where the drinking age is 21, and across the border, there's a promised land of alcohol and everything from dance clubs to places where girls do amazing things with donkeys . . .

    The experience of under the drinking age college kids going across the border only to have it all turn into a nightmare where you may be fighting for your life against both the locals and the police is something that happens to a lot of college age, American kids who grow up on the border.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikX_2gJDRts

    I lived in southern Mexico for years (in the Yucatan), and I loved it. I plan to go back

    But there are real monsters lurking on the border.

    I once had a friend accused of breaking a photo frame in a bathroom, which he didn't do. He was practically beaten to a pulp by the people who worked at the bar and then he was hauled off to jail by the local police. I once bailed another guy out of the TJ jail for setting off a firecracker on the beach is Rosarito during Spring Break. He came out naked, beaten up, and covered with hickeys.

    One time, a bouncer put my girlfriend up against the wall and started forcibly trying to kiss her. When I protested, . . . hilarity ensued.

    Yeah, on the border? The monsters are real. They feed on American college kids. No need to get supernatural.

  • Libertarian||

    "He came out naked, beaten up, and covered with hickeys."

    I wonder if "Truth or Dare" is this scary.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Good grief, even a comment to a movie review has to be a twelve paragraph essay on something slightly related.

    SMDH

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Icky Thump fucking sucks. Jack White is so garbage. No one seems to like Meg, but seems like maybe she restrained all the bullshit he's been doing since the late White Stripes albums.

  • Árboles de la Barranca||

    Meg was pretty stylish with her cigarette in Coffee And Cigarettes.

  • ||

    I'm commenting on Hit & Run in order to buy sex.

    Anybody got a problem with that? I'm asking you, FOSTA/SESTA!

  • gormadoc||

    Kelix the Kat?

  • BillEverman||

    I think the demon is from that Voyager episode where Kes and Neelix get fused together in a transporter accident.

    That was a thing, right?

  • Paloma||

    So what finally happens?

  • Árboles de la Barranca||

    Wow, I gotta put this one on my "Must Watch" list.

    Of course, that list is already full of other "Must Watch" movies.

  • Cloudbuster||

    There's an overextended sequence in which we watch a drunk girl tottering along the edge of a rooftop above a spiky fence (and then watch, in great disappointment, as she fails to fall on it).

    You know, there are still some of us who aren't sociopaths and feel relief when a movie character avoids a horrible death.

  • Cloudbuster||

    an ancient Mexican woman who knows the secret of something-or-other but can't discuss it directly because her tongue was cut out of her mouth many years ago and she can now communicate only by writing notes (in perfect English, luckily).

    Being surprised that an old Mexican woman can write perfect English is racist, dude!

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online