Springbreak it’s a hell of a time where young men and women can vent and cut loose. In Truth or Dare, however, Springbreak is the springboard for the latest horror from Blumhouse Productions and Universal Pictures.
Starring Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, and Violett Beane and from director Jeff Wadlow Truth or Dare follows a group of friends on their final Springbreak. Olivia (Hale), has the fun pushed on her by her best friend Markie (Beane) as she originally wanted to spend her Springbreak building houses for the needy. She does, however, spend the first few days of the holiday fawning over Lucas (Posey). Unfortunately for Olivia Lucas and Markie are a couple even though Markie is constantly cheating on poor Lucas. On one such night of professional fawning Olivia is approached by a dashing young man named Carter. They spend the evening chatting together until the party winds down and all of Olivia’s friends are still raring to go. Carter offers an alternative party palace for the group to continue their Springbreak so off they go in search of continued social alcoholism. When they finally arrive at an abandoned convent Olivia, Lucas, Markie, and the rest of their friends take part in a game of truth or dare. Unfortunately, there is a darker edge to this particular kids game. Carter explains that the players of the game have to follow its rules to the letter or they will die. Playing a game of truth or dare has never been more deadly.
Truth or Dare has a simple enough premise, the players have to do what the game asks of them or else they will die. It’s a horror Jumanji which could be fascinating. In my opinion for a horror to work you need three elements to help you stand out from the crowd. You need characters that you care about and in with that in mind, Jeff Wadlow has assembled a reasonably engaging cast of characters. Lucy Hale is effortlessly bland as lead protagonist Olivia and though Hale elevates the script with some emotive acting with scenes she shares with Beane’s Markie there is not enough there to make her more than the moral compass of the story. Tyler Posey (many will recognise Posey as Scott from Teen Wolf) plays Lucas much like he plays his lupine character on Teen Wolf. He’s charming, cute, and will do anything to help those who he cares about. Once again another character you’ve seen a million times before. It’s only when we hit Violett Beane’s Markie that the characters are fleshed out and the world expands. She easily has the most fleshed out backstory and Beane is wonderful at the scenes she is given. There are other highlights such as Brad (Hayden Chun Hay Szeto) one of the other players of this “game” who has to contend with his own secrets that may come out due to the intense nature of the game. There are other players but they aren’t nearly fleshed out enough for you to care in particular the needlessly arrogant character Tyson (Nolan Gerard Funk). He comes out with such needlessly harsh language for no reason other than to show he’s the asshole of the group.
The second element a horror needs to me is a one of a kind lore. With this Truth or Dare stumbles the force behind this horrifying game is interesting. All based on a theme of the loss of innocence this backstory is quite interesting even introducing a demonic figure which on paper sounded fascinating. It’s just not used to its fullest potential which is a shame.
Now with the two out of the three key elements of a horror out of the way we come to the final element, the horror. Does Truth or Dare frighten its audience and honestly I don’t think it does. It’s a tense film as you worry about the characters having to complete these challenges and the dare’s range from drinking vodka straight while balancing yourself on a two-story house to whipping your junk out in a full bar. So the tension levels do vary. This is not helped by the aesthetic design that happens in the film when the game talks to its players. The game possesses people and talks to the player whose turn it is and you know it has happened when a person takes on a stupendously idiotic smile with an augmented voice.
These are the surface issues and now we come to the technical issues and logic jumps. For example, the idiotic smile effect is terrible design wise not evoking any kind of terror. For me, all it did was remind me how poorly the budget was managed here. Then there are the logic jumps, the biggest problem was when the motley crew had to find one of the players before it was his turn so that they can keep him as safe as possible. They all set out to get to him at night, cut to the next day as he’s heading to his interview. That’s right they wait until the next day to find him. These people are in college literally minutes away from each other and they waited until the next day to get to him? These are literal life or death moments, for all they know the game got him during the night.
Truth or Dare is an okay film with some genuinely heartfelt moments that fans of the CW may enjoy but it only plays at being a horror which is a shame when you know the pedigree of Blumhouse Productions.