A group of college friends play a game of Truth or Dare at a party that leads to the humiliation of a geeky acquaintance. A year later the four friends reunite at a stately home on the promise of a party, but the celebrations soon turn sinister when their host forces them to play an altogether deadlier game of Truth or Dare.
Truth or Dare is an awkwardly British take on the usual horror clichés that ultimately continue to set back the genre by decades. The film has little in the way of creativity with several scenes styled aesthetically to imitate bigger and better efforts; drugged up party scenes are sped up and blurred in the manner of a hundred other films but play out like a sixth form media project rather than Requiem For a Dream. Cameras are placed at off kilter angles here and there riffing on The Evil Dead but serve as misplaced and ineffective without the presence of intensity. A shame considering the film’s strongest suit is its relatively decent technical quality, though the slick look also manages to detract somewhat from the gritty tone the film is aiming for.
The up and coming cast appear to do what is required of them but with a patchy script littered with stunted conversations and rushed emotions the characters are decidedly unconvincing, not to mention dislikeable. It is disappointingly common for horror and thriller films to revolve around dispensable eye candy to the point of tradition, but when the all the players warrant no empathy to this extent there is a distracting void that causes an audience to lose interest in who wins, loses, survives or otherwise. Truth or Dare has a mixed up attitude lingering somewhere between smug and unsure. It revels in its almost camp heavy handedness but also expects an audience to take it as suspenseful and dark without offering anything unpredictable or creative ro react to. A film relying on a single gimmick and set piece is not particularly admirable, resulting in an extremely poor man’s latter Saw entry.
Some of the film is frankly cringe-worthy; especially a very odd preoccupation with the characters accusing each other of being gay. Half used as a strangely misjudged plot point that unnecessarily turns up at the last minute and otherwise used to no avail during threats and outbursts missing context to seemingly shock viewers. Constant uses of Americanisms like ‘queer’ and ‘faggot’ aren’t advisable from the mouths of characters with public school dialects; it just comes across forced and silly. The similar on several levels British film ‘The Hole’ wasn’t exactly a classic but did manage to work with its premise much better than Truth or Dare, proving that having hateful posh youngsters turning on each other in an isolated location can be entertaining and balance the lack of any heroes with some intensity and twists.
Truth or Dare isn’t any fun; only proving funny once or twice quite unintentionally, neither is it complex or cool. The attempts to inject some sex and jeopardy fail pretty badly. As for violence, though there is some low budget competence in the odd slap or stab anyone hoping for blood will be left short changed and those wanting subtle smarts in their thrillers will not be keen on the low road routes often taken. Many have done this better on straight to DVD and overall Truth or Dare is clumsy, unmemorable and boringly the same old thing with the same old flaws.