By Jack Dignan
Upon completion of this movie, a moment in life I thought would never come, my friend turns to me and says, “if they dared me to watch this movie again, I’d choose death.” Truer words have never been spoken. Truth or Dare is the antichrist disguised in the form of modern entertainment. While A Quiet Place recently reminded us all of why we love horror so much, Truth or Dare has arrived to remind us all of why we hate horror so much.
We’ve all played truth or dare. It’s a game as simple as it sounds. You pick truth, you answer with the truth. You pick dare, you follow through with the dare. But the movie adaptation of this not-at-all threatening game adds a supernatural twist. A group of teenagers vacationing it up in Mexico uncover an evil entity that’s latched itself to the game (yes, it’s as stupid as it sounds), forcing them to participate in an endless loop. If they follow along, they live, but if they refuse to play, they die, and one by one their numbers start falling and death catches up to them.
It’s astonishing that a horror film so unfathomably bad has been released just one week after a horror film so unbelievably good, and yet here we are with Truth or Dare. The genre of horror doesn’t need a complicated plot to work. There are certainly exceptions, but for the most part, it’s a genre of simplicity, and that simplicity lends itself to the most tantalizing of scares. But with Truth or Dare, not only does this concept becomes overly contrived and convoluted, lost in its own broken mythology, but the basic premise isn’t scary in the slightest.
The Conjuring took the simple idea of a haunted house and the investigators who help solve it, and they created one of the scariest modern horror films in recent memory. Truth or Dare is an original premise, I’ll give it that, but its stupidity is impossible to ignore. The scariest idea the four (!!) screenwriters were able to conjure up is having the words ‘truth or dare’ ominously written in places it wasn’t previously. No joke, that’s the only scare used in the entirety of the first act, made hilarious through an over the top score that reeks with melodrama.
Watching this movie was the longest 100 minutes of my life. The pacing is relentlessly slow, with the three-act structure mutilated until unrecognisable. Every time the film feels as though it’s wrapping up, a stupid yet predictable curveball is thrown into the mix, and nine times out of ten this curveball broke the already established rules of the game. Whenever these characters are forced into a truth or dare situation, their faces expand into a sort of demonic smile, yet it’s the goofiest, most Snapchat filter looking thing you’ll ever see. It wasn’t scary the first time and it certainly wasn’t the seventy-eighth time.
Even in terms of filmmaking, editing and acting, this film just falls apart. The cinematography is awkward, almost as if improvised on the spot and then changed halfway through the shot, which is made even worse through unbalanced colour correcting that’s drab, ugly and doesn’t always match with the rest of the scene. Some of the acting is bearable, I guess, despite none of the characters having any likeability about them, but the dialogue drags their performances into the ground and absolutely destroys everything they stand for. If you actually make it to the end of this film unscathed, I applaud your bravery.
I’ll give credit to the ending for at least having a pulse. It’s the only moment that feels as if it’s trying to say something, even if that something is so nihilistic to the point where general audiences aren’t going to sit well with it. But all in all, this is the Flatliners of 2018. I even spent the entire time waiting for a moment that’d match the scene in Flatliners where a character gets stabbed, only to be sitting fine having dinner in literally the next shot. AND THEN SOMETHING EQUALLY IDIOTIC HAPPENED HERE! But hey, at least Truth or Dare isn’t as terrifyingly awful as 15:17 to Paris; I’ll give it that.
1 1/2 Stars
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