With Blumhouse productions enjoying a level of success producing low-budget horror films it seemed like they were due to create a dud. The studio behind such films as Get Out, Insidious, The Purge, Split, Paranormal Activity and The Gift has rolled out a potential franchise with the Jeff Wadlow-directed Truth or Dare. Taking a childhood game and updating it for today’s audience is a risky proposition, but Blumhouse hopes that borrowing somewhat from the Final Destination blueprint, and casting teen-friendly talent like Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) and Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf) will help it sell at the box office. It may actually work but Wadlow and his team of writers (Michael Reisz, Jillian Jacobs, Chris Roach and Wadlow) used generic and overused horror tropes which led to a boring product. That doesn’t bode well as its concept as the only thing going for it.

A group of friends (Hale, Posey, Violette Beane, Hayden Szeto, Nolan Gerard Funk and Sophia Ali) spend their final college spring break in Mexico, where they meet a seemingly unassuming Carter (Landon Liboiron) and follow him to an abandoned mission. Carter suggests they play truth or dare and of course things get weird. Carter reveals to an all-too-polite Olivia (Hale) that their truth or dare game is “real” and that failure to reveal a truth or complete a dare will result in death. Lucy and her friends pay it no mind until some strange things arise after they’ve returned to school. Olivia is the first one to believe in Carter’s statements and it’s not long before the rest of her friends are forced to play. While staving off death with each turn, the gang tries to find a solution, all while making massive efforts to stay alive. Typical drama amongst the group is revealed, which is supposed to raise the tension. But all it really does is delay the inevitable – an unexciting soap opera that incorporates substandard violence, cheap scares and tepid acting.

When dealing with horror films, many viewers seek them out so they can witness new and inventive ways victims meet their demise. Even if the movie is terrible at the least fans can hang their hats on how a particular character was killed. Truth or Dare isn’t creative enough to fulfill even that expectation. One of the more boring death scenes has already been highlighted in the trailers - when a character slips on a billiard ball while atop a pool table. That arguably is the most memorable, an indicator that Truth is boring. There is one other scene with potential, but considering Truth or Dare can only show so much violence (it’s PG-13 after all), any tension generated is very low at best.

There are plenty of flaws built into Truth or Dare, but its most glaring and unforgivable flaw is the conclusion. Things already went off the rails by the second act but the choices the clique makes are cowardly and downright stupid. We can thank the script for that because seemingly the writing team painted themselves into a corner. The concept left few options as to where the story should go, so by the end nothing worked. Even with a good ending it wouldn’t have mattered because viewers’ frustration levels would be at an all-time high.

Truth or Dare will be remembered for taking an old and not-so-fun children’s game and turning it into some sort of death roulette. The terrible thing about it all is that I didn’t care about any of the characters and actually didn’t mind if they died. But their deaths would be so bland (terrible, isn’t it?) and unimaginative, so there’s no pleasure in that.

In short, there’s not much to Truth or Dare. So if you do decide to give this latest from Blumhouse a try, I dare you to find something to like about it.

2 stars out of 5


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