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Truth or Dare Movie Review

Truth or Dare Movie Review
The "Dare"devil Made Me Do It

Games are usually supposed to be fun, right? Well, someone should probably tell that to the filmmakers behind "Truth or Dare." I mean, turning the old party standard into a supernatural deathtrap is all well and good, but not if it means completely sucking all the entertainment value out of the experience. While the players on screen are appropriately distressed, the audience shouldn't have to suffer too. Sadly, that's pretty much what viewers can expect from director Jeff Wadlow's teen terror misfire.

After heading to Mexico for spring break, Olivia (Lucy Hale) and her friends meet a seemingly nice guy named Carter (Landon Liboiron) at a bar. Hoping to keep the night going, Carter takes the gang to an abandoned mission for some late night drinks. There, he starts up a game of truth or dare. At first, things seem innocent enough, but soon it's revealed that Carter really only brought everyone there to trick them into joining the game...which just so happens to be controlled by a mysterious demonic force.  Now bound to keep playing, the group must answer any questions asked or accept any dares given by the sinister entity. And if they ever lie or fail to complete a task...they die. Huh, who knew demons were such sticklers for rules?
Essentially playing out like a poor man's mashup of "It Follows" and "Final Destination," the premise itself actually starts off with some decent potential, even if it is extremely derivative. Unfortunately, the script doesn't end up coming anywhere close to the quality of either of the films it tries to rip off. What we get instead is a dumb, dull, generic, surprisingly bloodless, scare-free attempt at low budget Hollywood horror. In other words, this thing is just plain awful.

The protagonists are all stock clichés that rarely rise above their thin characterizations. There's the selfless goody two-shoes lead, a more promiscuous, emotionally damaged best friend, and a boring square-jawed hunk stuck in the middle to form a requisite love triangle. And they're all dumb as rocks. I understand that horror flicks tend to rely on characters making stupid decisions, but some of the choices here defy all reason.

First, it takes way too long for the characters to finally accept that they're trapped in an evil game of truth or dare, and even after they do come to grips with the gravity of the situation, some of the players still seem to think that choosing truth and exposing a secret is somehow a worse option than, well, dying. Likewise, the characters who have to hear these awful truths can't seem to just put their emotions aside and let bygones be bygones considering the insane circumstances. I guess a painful death is but a small price to pay when the alternative could mean hurting someone's feelings!

Of course, no bad horror film could be complete without its heroes committing the biggest cardinal sin of the genre: splitting up when it's dangerous and it makes absolutely no sense to do so. Well, "Truth or Dare" takes this trope to an entirely new level by having two characters actually leave the country without saying a damn word to their friend. Said journey does allow the filmmakers to offer some answers about the movie's supernatural antagonist, but the forgettable mythology that's revealed will likely leave most viewers missing the mystery.

And then there's the, uh, "unique" visual effects. Whenever a character is possessed by the game-loving demon, the filmmakers apply a comically bad "evil" smile to their faces that makes it look like the director just dragged the Photoshop warp tool across their mouth. In fact, the effect is so bad that Olivia even jokes about the possessed looking like they have a terrible Snapchat filter applied -- a rare moment when the movie actually seems to have a sense of humor about itself. It's something I wish was more prevalent.

Sadly, the whole experience is pretty much devoid of entertainment value. Even genre fans purely hoping for some mindless horror will be wholly dissatisfied, as the deadly dares and death sequences all lack any semblance of creativity. If characters don't complete a dare or answer truthfully, the demon forces them to commit suicide in a ridiculous fashion, but all the scenarios presented here are way too lame to be scary or amusing. And don't get me started on the ending. It just might be one of the dumbest conclusions I've seen in a long time, seemingly stretching (if not breaking) several rules already established earlier in the story.

Truth or dare? For the sake of this review I'll pick the former, and the truth about this movie really couldn't be any simpler. It sucks. It's not scary. It's not funny. Honesty, it's not really amusing or engaging in any way. It's so generically bad, in fact, that it's not even worth a look on a dare.

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