If we were actually playing TRUTH OR DARE and you asked me the question, I replied truth, and then you ask what I truly feel about this movie, I would say, “you know what? Fuck it, I enjoyed it and would mildly recommend it.” Probably shocks you because usually shit like this I throw in my own personal meat grinder. Instead this appears to be more in line with Happy Death Day, being PG-13 horror/thriller films that aren’t really scary at all but are actually a little bit of fun. And that is in thanks to its crazy mythology, decent acting, and one (or two) truly emotional dramatic scenes that had my jaw open for the entire segment. The marketing sucks on this one, but how else are you supposed to market a film like this? If this had been a hard Rated R film we could’ve gotten something truly, truly special.
Instead, we get a PG-13 film bordering on R that’s a little bit of fun but still a lot of potential that the filmmakers didn’t decide to strike upon. I know that PG-13 usually gets the teens into the theater with more bang for your buck (look at A Quiet Place for God’s sake) but I think in the long run this film would’ve been respected more if it were a hard no holds barred R. But if we get one more situational horror/thriller PG-13 movie next year that is a little fun like this and Happy Death Day and that makes up a cool little situational horror fun trilogy, I’m willing to accept the rating and quality of the film…for right now. Sorry, but I’m a sucker for made up non official trilogies.
Anyway, back to the actual movie. The movie works mainly because of the characters. Even at their worst, the characters are actually fucking likable. Oh, and they are fucking smart too. I have never seen so many teen characters in a film make the right decisions before in a horror movie, even if those right decisions still end up leading them to a grisly end. I don’t want to ruin anything, but during one of the dare scenes, I was basically mouthing what the characters needed to do at the screen, and they fucking did it! I was shocked to my utter core. In that one scene, the tension, combined with the right decisions, combined with the decent acting made one hell of a little grab your armrest kind of affair.
The movie also works because of Lucy Hale. I’ve actually met Lucy Hale in real life and she seems more down to Earth than a lot of celebrities of her caliber. I met her a comic con about two years ago and she was so nice to the young ladies that watch her on Pretty Little Liars and she was very nice to me and talkative when she signed my Scream 4 poster and we talked about the recent passing of Wes Craven. Her character here is so likable that when we find out she has a few hidden secrets within her closet, that it leaves the audience shocked, but doesn’t change what we ultimately think about her. Your opinion might differ, but there is a scene of confession from her, that even though she said something very wrong to somebody once upon a time, we are willing to forgive her for all her actions before and during a conversation with another character.
There is another scene dealing with a different likable character, that involves a dare that is very sad and very emotional, and the ending of it made me have a large lump in my throat. I was shocked the marketing has kept this scene out of the film, but kudos to them. The scene stands out and again, you’ll know it when you see it. The only odd man out here acting wise is Tyler Posey, who shines in one scene but in the rest he kind of looks confused like he doesn’t know what kind of emotion to display on screen. Luckily, it wasn’t enough to distract me or take me out of the film. There are a lot of characters in this and each get their own little arcs and the film, whether it kills them off or not, gives them each closure and their own emotional payoff that works.
But the movie isn’t scary at all. The film has really only two jump scares, and they deal with a phone ringing (this cliche has got to end) and a character turning around and someone being suddenly behind that character (another cliche that has got to end). I think the film had ample opportunity to give us jump scares that weren’t force and paid off. I think if the screenplay (which was written by four people, two too many in my opinion) and if the direction was a little bit tweeked (director Jeff Ladlow isn’t the best, Kick Ass 2 was only ok), this could’ve been a truly scary horror/thriller. But I guess with a PG-13 rating you can only go so far.
What really works in the film is the rules of Truth or Dare, the crazy fucking mythology, and the balls of an ending. Like recent horror films, this gives us another non typical Hollywood ending. But this one is more bittersweet and dark than just plain old dark and dreary. I liked that minor change. I won’t ruin any of the rules here, but there are several specific rules to the game in Truth or Dare, and I loved that it wasn’t made up and rules just written on the fly like some horror films try to do. And the mythology is fucking nuts. Yes, there is a true reason why this deadly game is being played by these teens, and even though the reasoning is off the wall bonkers, I liked that they tried to do something different.
So in the end, I dare you to actually maybe check this one out if you have time. It isn’t necessarily a theater watching necessity, but if you want to have a little fun on a lonely Friday or Saturday night, this would easily pass your time. Truthfully though, you might not like it, especially if you are a critical movie critic like me that usually has films like this for breakfast. But if you open your mind a little and see that the writers and everyone involved with this project actually tried to bring an audience what they thought was a decent film, you make actually come to a halfway compromise. It is halfway decent, but it should’ve been Rated R. Unrated Blu-Ray anyone?