A bunch of dum-dums travel to Mexico to party it up one last time (literally). They end up playing a game of Truth or Dare in a spooky abandoned mission (naturally) and awaken a demon that uses the game to torment and eventually kill them one by one. Can they stop the demon before it’s too late? Find out in… Truth or Dare.
How?! I feel like I’ve written this one several times before. A bunch of (kinda douchey) friends are spending one last Spring Break in Mexico drinking and partying. Near the end of their time there they are invited out to a sketchy abandoned mission by a sketchy guy for sketchy reasons, but they follow him there (duh). He asks them to play truth or dare and they oblige because they are dumb. Turns out that he was using them to get more people involved in a demonic game of truth or dare run by a demon trickster. This demon trickster proceeds to torment them by having them reveal their deepest darkest secrets to each other or attempt death defying dares. When one refuses or is unsuccessful they are possessed and kill themselves. Weirdly, a lot of the truths and/or dares actually seem like they are helping the characters. Like they finally confront things in their lives that they’ve so far refused to confront. Like one guy has been scared to come out to his dad but the demon forces him to and he actually seems better for it. More true to himself. Kinda a good guy demon sometimes. Anyway, in the end they track down the source of the demon and find a way out of the game. But the demon is too tricky and smart and outwits them at the last moment. Our final girls are doomed but in a shocking twist (what a twist!) they post a video on YouTube inviting the whole world into the game thus dooming a significant number of people to death. Cooooool. THE END.
Why?! The motivations are where I think they could have played with the concept a little more. Like they have a bunch of people, most of who are objectively terrible, that get caught up in a game of terror with no other motivations other than to survive. Instead of having cartoonish misogynist Ronnie turn out to be a sensitive good guy… he is slaughtered in the first thirty minutes for laughs. Instead of having the fake prescription writing future med student learn the errors of his ways… he is also slaughtered. Instead of the two main characters knowing that while they’ll likely die as part of this game they actually were able to finally be fully truthful with each other after years of hiding their secrets away… they use the internet to turn the world to chaos (presumably). In the end it’s because the trickster demon of course doesn’t want to help them, he not some demon therapist trying to have them communicate better with each other or anything, but at the very least they could have acknowledged that that is kinda what the demon was doing. He helps a kid come out as gay to his homophobic dad for god’s sake!
Who?! I do want to discuss Ronnie a little bit. He’s not a true Planchet as his motivations are not pure (he is clearly a fratty horndog), but he does seem to just want to hang out with our terrible group of main characters and they’re like “gross, Ronnie.” There was opportunity to use him in a more creative way rather than as an obvious first kill… like why couldn’t the main character be dared to hook up with Ronnie but then find he’s actually a good dude and it’s all an act? Nope. Just killed off after his 1000th joke about wanting to bone some hot chick with big bazongas or whatever.
What?! The use of SnapChat, Facebook, YouTube, etc. throughout the film isn’t product placement perse. Seems more like a little signaling to let youngsters know that the writers “get it” and aren’t a couple fuddy-duddy old people. In particular when the main character says that she uses YouTube for videos about her volunteer work and SnapChat if just for fun. Classic. And yes, I used the term “fuddy-duddy” to signal to all the octogenarians that read BMT that I “get it.”
Where?! A nice balance of Mexico and California. They seem to go to the made-up Westlake University in the LA area as evidenced by the quick trips to Mexico, CA license plates, and bars and restaurants located in that area. While obvious it’s not super necessary to the plot. B+.
When?! Obviously around Spring Break, but we are no treated to an exact date. Weirdly our main characters are lured into playing the game by a previous group of players desperate to try to save themselves. It’s clear from some articles we see in the film though that this previous group was playing around June 4th. So we are either expected to believe that they have been continuing to play for almost a year or whatever school these dum-dums go to has Spring Break in the middle of June. I choose neither. They probably just screwed up the timing when making the props or whatever. C+.
I was actually really surprised at how bad this film was. Felt very Rings or Ouija to me and that’s not what you typically get from Blumhouse. They are supposed to deliver high concept horror/thriller, but this literally seems like the lowest, most cliched concept with a terrible script to boot. Patrick pointed out to me that rewrites aren’t generally in the cards for the budgets that Blumhouse are after but… I mean… at some point you have to, right? This was really bad. At moments you could get whiffs of Happy Death Day (which similarly had the main characters be damaged and somewhat unlikeable), but then it would disappear like a mirage. Is it better than Slender Man… eeesh. Probably. But barely and that’s not a good look. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! What do you get when you cross Rings with Final Destination? Apparently a really dumb film with a terrible ending … let’s get into it!
The Good – The film looks okay. The concept is also at least original to a degree, with a kind of trickster demon being the crux of the whole thing. It is just Rings, so originality is really only superficial ultimately. I liked the actors even if they were terrible. And I still think I like Blumhouse. I think the concepts they bring to horror and the way they make them is fantastic for the genre and, honestly, I hope that similar things can be done with other flagging genres. Like rom coms, or original sci fi, or fantasy, see what you can do with a small budget and small television actors and see if there is any interest. Although the issue will likely be that horror audiences are dependable, you almost always get at least $10 million from teenagers no matter how bad the film is.
P’s View on the Preview – Everything pointed towards this being a boring PG-13 horror film. The only thing that made me a bit curious was why they added new rules to the game. In the preview it was suggested that you have to do a dare after two truths in a row. That isn’t real. That isn’t a real rule! That is just some made up bullshit to make sure the people in the film didn’t find the most obvious loophole to the stupidest game of all time. I was hoping I was wrong, but I wasn’t. Sigh.
The Bad – This film is not scary, is mostly boring, and the hook is silly to the point of just making my laugh (like The Bye Bye Man). The entire film is predicated on the assumption that no one gives a shit that a handful of people who all know each other are killing themselves and dying and shit. Number one thing people would assume it that these people are all on some crazy drugs, they wouldn’t be running around solving mysteries. The action doesn’t start quick enough, the acting is bad, all of these people are horrible people I don’t care about who make poor decisions and are dumb. If not for the ending I would have just said the film was shiny nonsense like Flatliners, but the ending might be one of the worst shoulder shrugs of an ending I’ve ever seen. It pushes it right into Bye Bye Man level nonsense. Like … I hate this movie? Wait … is this dog poo in my face at the last second three pointer!?
You Just Got Schooled – Do you know what would be fun? Looking through the wiki page on the game Truth or Dare in general. First we have this bonkers 1986 straight-to-video feature. WTF, the writer-director was 18 when it was made! There are also films of the same name in 2011, 2013, and 2017 which is pretty incredible. The game itself seems to date to at least 1712 described thusly: “A Christmas game, in which the commander bids his subjects to answer a question which is asked. If the subject refuses or fails to satisfy the commander, he must pay a forfeit [follow a command] or have his face smutted [dirtied].” It also is similar to the ancient Greek game basilinda where a king would tell him subjects what acts to perform. Fun. Facts.
The BMT – This probably enters the worst endings hall of fame for me personally. Somehow the ending to Rings worked, whereas this just feels like a cop out. I’ll probably also note this as a bigger version of what we saw in The Call starring Halle Berry where the ending flies so totally in the face of how a character acts throughout the film that is it jarring and weird. Otherwise is just stands alongside Slender Man and Bye Bye Man and the like. Supernatural horror churns out a ton of films (five qualifying films this year alone) so it isn’t a surprise we collect them like pokemon.
Welcome to Earf – There was a zero percent chance I was getting any connections without looking up at least the first step. The number one best option would have been The Canyons starring Lindsay Lohan and (for reals, third billed) Nolan Funk … which I’ve seen, but it wasn’t released to enough theaters to count for BMT. So I’ll have to fall back to Sam Lerner who played our first hapless victim Ronnie, and was a child actor in the Jack Black classic Envy with Ben Stiller, who was in Zoolander 2 with Owen Wilson, who was in I, Spy with Eddie Murphy, who was in Norbit with Terry Crews, who was in Blended with Adam Sandler, who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino, who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski, who was in Here on Earth! Welcome to Earf!
StreetCreditReport.com – Interestingly the cred is a little thin here. It is obviously mentioned in review-based worst of lists (like this one), but elsewhere it seems to be ignored. There are individual reviews lamenting it as one of the worst of the year though. I certainly think it is. But some people seem to disagree about the ending in particular. I think that up until that ending they had a chance to be an Ouija with a decent prequel. Now? Trash.
This film is pretty bad, and now I’ve seen seven films from this year. From worst to best I think I would currently put them at: (1) Fifty Shades Freed (2) Show Dogs (3) Truth or Dare (4) Slender Man (5) Death Wish (6) The Predator (7) Hunter Killer. Stay tuned for an updated list.