- Critic's Rating - 6/10
Truth or Dare
What would you do? You’re gathered in the dorm room with your beautiful young American friends as one of them explains that some curse has doomed you all to a madly complicated death. If you wear a hat after sundown your head will burst into flames. That sort of thing.
This scene has played out in American horror films for some time. No series has staged it better than the Final Destination flicks. This story may be messy, silly and illogical, but it works well in the progression of the pernicious curse as it works its way like a shape-shifting virus through the various friends.
Listen carefully because I doubt I’ll have the energy to explain this again. While holidaying in North Mexico, the PYTs (Pretty Young Things) friends – one looks like Kate Hudson’s niece, another like Freddie Prinze – get lured to a haunted convent for a game of Truth or Dare. There are weird smells. There are discarded photographs of scary nuns. It’s all very odd. But they escape with their souls intact.
Or do they?
Back in some Southern Californian City, they discover that the game has followed them home and is now… playing for keeps! The words “truth or dare” appear on walls, on cars, on their flesh and in the mouths of friends. If they play honestly they survive, but the consequences may still be ghastly. If they don’t play they die.
The internal logic makes little sense in the opening third and becomes impossible to follow by the busy close. It is simply not fair on the audience to allow the malign entity to break its own rules. That probably happens in the denouement, but it’s hard to tell by that point.
For all that, Truth or Dare is good fun. We are lucky to live at a time where we get endless quality horror such as A Quiet Place, The Witch, Hereditary, Ghost Stories and (a very different Blumhouse Productions film) called Get Out.
But there has always been a place for good, honest modern-mixed-with-the-Past horror . The actors give it their all. There are some super squirmy moments. There’s a nice effect that turns surrounding citizens into madly gurning versions of Conrad Veidt in Paul Leni’s ‘The Man Who Laughed’. All of this pays homage to the Mexican ‘festival’, an annual day called Dios del los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a celebration of passage of the Dead of Mexico to Paradise. This is a very affective cross-cultural study in young-brash-America meets old respected tradition of the fine country of the Aztecs south of Texas and California.
A ‘warning’ film so; and one that treats the culture ‘clash’ very subtly at first, then turning into a maelstrom of bother for the band of friends.