I am not a
horror fan gratuitous horror film fan. I am squeamish when it comes to blood and gore, and I frighten easy.
However, every once in a while, I’ll give them a go (e.g. the time I managed to watch all 5 Final Destination films in less than week during a Spring Break trip).
I do like psychological horror films, and I can amp myself up for suspense and demonic creatures if there’s a profound and developed plot line behind it (e.g. The Quiet Place- best film of the year may I add and will get it’s own review soon- I’m looking at you).
My reason for wanting to see Truth or Dare broke down to three factors:
- Lucy Hale stars in it
- The basic premise seemed entertaining enough- friends go on spring break to Mexico and shit goes awfully wrong
- Truth or Dare becoming everyone’s worst fear just seemed to intriguing to pass up on- I wanted to know more
I did have my apprehensions already before going into the film- the trailer teased a fair amount of gory deaths (people stabbing themselves in the eye and snapping their neck as they fell off a pool table)- was Lucy Hale really going to enough to justify exactly what makes me turn my nose to these horror films? Yes. She was. So much so that I convinced my boyfriend to go watch the film with me during a late Friday night premiere showing on the 13th (my boyfriend is less of a horror film fan than I am).
As the time grew nearer to watch the film, I became increasingly weary whether over I could manage all the terrifying deaths. I also reminded myself that as much as the trailer was intriguing, I had a hunch it would be terrible.
And it was- it was a terrible film. The acting (with the exception of Hale and perhaps Teen Wolf star Tyler Posey) was poor, the characters were undeveloped and unlikeable, the plot line was iffy at best, and it was not a horror film. Trust me- there was enough synchronised laughter in the cinema to prove that my boyfriend and I weren’t the only ones in hysterics.
Before I get into my take on the film, here’s the basic plot line: A group of friends go on a spring break trip to Mexico, where they spend their last evening playing Truth or Dare. The group soon discovers that the game is actually a curse they are forever bound to, and if they refuse to play, they die.
As the film begun killing off its core set of amigos, I initially begun to cover my eyes and jump in my seat purely out of anticipation of the gore the trailer teased- but that was all it was, a tease. From a personal relief perspective, I was pleasantly surprised that the film was indeed not horrifying at all. The stabbing of the eye and snap of the neck happened but was not a horrifying showcase of blood and guts. That being said, it kind of defeats the purpose as it made the deaths appear completely unrealistic. Once I realised that there was no gore for my stomach to churn to, I relaxed into my chair and kept my eyes wide open (I at least want to feel some suspenseful stress during a horror film!)
So why was the film so funny, you ask? Well, it was really bad, but like funny bad. It was funny because the film clearly wasn’t trying to be a parody, it took itself very seriously, but there is no way the viewer could take it seriously. It reminds me of those ‘go home…you’re drunk memes’.
The film wasn’t going to go away until it was over, of course, and neither were my boyfriend and I- after all we did pay £16 each to watch it (extortionate, yes, but this was central London on Friday night). And you know what? We enjoyed how bad it was, and how much entertainment it provided us with.
Getting back to the point, beyond the film failing miserably at making us scared, we weren’t saddened by the characters deaths. As mentioned, they were all very unlikeable (even Hale’s). The only redeemable character was potentially Brad, a homosexual male who is forced to come out to his homophobic father through Truth or Dare, but to his surprise ends up growing closer to him because his father accepts him. He then of course has to die, in his fathers arms, because he doesn’t complete another dare (convincing his dad to beg for his life while he threatens to kill him, honestly, only moment that gave me proper feels).
The other characters who died were just annoying or plain awful people I would never associate with, or we didn’t know enough about them to give a damn. It was also quite head scratching that the characters themselves didn’t seem to give too many shits about their own friends dying, I think there were no tears shed during some deaths. How are we meant to care about the characters deaths if the characters themselves don’t either?
The film ends with two characters left, and in a desperate attempt to save themselves, they share a viral video explaining what’s happened to them and asking each viewer: Truth or Dare (essentially binding the rest of the world into the cursed game, and saving themselves). As selfish as this is, I will give the film props for creating an unexpected ending and one that doesn’t redeem it, but certainly deserves recognition.
To conclude, I’ll leave you all with some of the film’s most head scratching/brow raising/disapproving/WTF moments:
- THAT sex scene: The only sex scene, actually, thank goodness. During a Dare, Hale’s character (Olivia) is dared to have sex with her best friend’s boyfriend, Posey’s Lucas. While the viewers all know at this point that Olivia has feelings for Lucas (and vice-versa), the exchange between the two goes along the lines of Lucas telling Olivia she has to have sex with him and he wants to (let’s have a moment of silence for what could have been a genuine vulnerable and romantic moment between two consenting adults). As the two mount each other, Olivia goes into snapchat demon filter mode and asks Lucas, Truth or Dare, he then picks truth and is asked whether he loves Markie (his girlfriend) or Olivia. Lucas chooses Markie, which is super awkward considering they are still naked and on top of each other….
- Penelope’s death: Penelope, after losing her boyfriend to stabbing himself in the eye because he didn’t tell the truth during Truth or Dare, survives her own dare that involves her walking the whole edge of the roof while finishing a bottle of straight up vodka. She falls off the roof but survives as her friends manage to lay a mattress on top of a car in time to catch her. She dies shortly after though when she lunges herself to save Olivia from a bullet from another character that is dared to kill Olivia. Olivia seems super unappreciative of this, and just holds Penelope in her arms without shedding a tear and just seeming to accept that she’s dead and nothing can be done to save her (no urge from her to call 911, and Penelope wasn’t shot in the head so….)
- The origin of the Truth or Dare curse: I’m not even going to try to explain or make sense out of why this Truth or Dare game is cursed…I’m not even sure the producers want me or anyone else to because I don’t think they thought it mattered. At some point it is revealed by some old Mexican grandma with no tongue that a church was cursed and the only way to break the curse is for the one who destroyed the church to cut his tongue off and repeat a Spanish saying 7 times and to then place his tongue in some skeleton trinket…sigh….
- The ‘Big Ben’ scene: Towards the very end of the film, two irrelevant characters are seen watching the viral video summoning them to play Truth or Dare, behind them is the ‘Big Ben’. Why the quotations? Because it was the most obvious use of green screen ever and made us all wonder if production had squeezed every last ounce of their budget out by that point.
I’d like to end this post by saying, that I definitely recommend you all go and see it, purely for the entertainment value!