To be transparent, I went in with low expectations to see Truth or Dare, as the well of good Blumhouse horror films has been right dry for what seems nigh on three bloody years outside of Get Out. Off the bat the first thing I noticed, or didn’t in this case, was any actors I knew. In the case of a show like Gotham, you’ll see Tasha McCauley who plays Gordon’s wife, and Deadpool’s girlfriend in the Merc With A Mouth’s movie and there will forever be that disconnect when seeing her in the other… or anything else. So this gets bonus points for using more scarce faces.
On the subject of faces, I’m sure we’re all familiar with the spoopy faces where the mouth and eyes are ghoulish, deformed black blobs. Looking at you Grave Encounters.
In Truth or Dare, when the demon known as Calyx possesses the person who refuses or fails to play the titular game, their face becomes one of the creepiest fucking things I’ve seen in a horror film in terms of facial expressions go. Tip of the hat to the people responsible for this.
My advantageous timing allowed me to take the film in uninterrupted or hindered by chair kicking, numpties on the phone, people yelling at the screen, etc. This had the effect of helping me to focus more than usual on the score. We all know horror films tend to have overbearing scores — most notably in this category is Insidious and its bloody violins.
Ahem. As I was saying… this flick’s score was subtle most of the time and only picked up when things either got incredibly tense or a plot arc was reaching an apex. The best scores for these kinds of horror flicks tend to be understated, and this works to the benefit of Truth or Dare.
As far as the acting is concerned, overall it was not too spectacular, but also not bad enough to take away from the quality of the film. However, there were a couple of cases of acting which excelled in my view. An honorable mention would be Ronnie (played by Sam Lerner), who was notably skilled at portraying a skeevy, yet persistent knobhead. The best acting in my eyes, by far, came from Markie (played by Violett Beane). As the movie went on, it became clear that her strengths are showing the emotional toll of betrayal and soul crushing lies. Her confrontations with Olivia and her onscreen boyfriend (played respectively by Lucy Hale and Tyler Posey), and her moments of self-reflection drew me in emotionally and made me care about someone in one of these things for once.
This may in part be due to the fact that one reason for her pain was extremely relatable. Having a layer of possibly relatable emotion in a horror film, besides fear or morbid curiosity, is something more of them need.
More often than not, horror films have too long of a build up to the first scare or major event. Thankfully, the build up in Truth or Dare is around thirty minutes — leaving near one full hour for things to ramp up even further. This was a nice break from what seems to be the typical and painfully slow buildup followed by having everything thrown at you in one thirty minute or so window that some of the more cookie cutter of horror flicks I’ve been catching.
If we were a site that rated things, the highest rating I’d be able to give it is a 7 out of 10. It would have gotten an eight had there been more scares and more notably great cases of acting. What saves it from dropping to a 6 is a surprisingly decent plot, with some nice side stories like that between Markie, Olivia, etc, which helped to bring an extra layer to the story. One which got especially dark, morbid and rather twisted at times.
If I can say one thing more, it’s that I dare you to defy what you might have read from film “journos” and give this movie a chance. No games about it, the truth is that Truth or Dare is worth a watch.