The name Blumhouse has become synonymous with low-budget, contemporary horror that satisfies. So, it's particularly disheartening that this project, Blumhouse's Truth or Dare, feels so incredibly irrelevant.
With a mere $3.5 million production budget and a 3,000+ screen release, it's practically guaranteed that Truth or Dare will become the latest Blumhouse success story. Truth or Dare looks like it started off with a decent enough idea, the idea of an actual, haunted game of Truth or Dare.
As someone who has a kinda sorta traumatic history around the game of Truth or Dare from childhood, Truth or Dare should have been a difficult film to watch. It should have scared the crap out of me.
Instead, Truth or Dare gets bogged down in its rules and explanations and faux supernatural mythology that drones on like Charlie Brown's teacher. While it's admirable to demand a plot even in indie horror, the simple truth is that somehow Truth or Dare gets lost in its plot and never really makes the characters matter nor the actual truths or dares even remotely compelling.
In the film, Lucy Hale stars as Olivia, a young college girl whose spring break plans suddenly go from missional to missionary when she detours from building Habitat houses to joining her best friend Markie (Violett Beane) in Mexico where they are joined by the obligatory no-name horror film caricatures who subsequently find themselves gathered together in an abandoned church.
When a mysterious stranger suggests they play a game of Truth or Dare, the game begins only for it to be revealed that it's haunted by a demon and there's no choice but for all of them to keep playing, otherwise they die, and both the truths and the dares keep growing in intensity and consequences.
For a production company that put out the Oscar nominated Get Out along with other surprisingly entertaining low-budget horror endeavors, Truth or Dare is ridiculously convoluted and downright silly. The film has an aura of retro horror, though it lacks the charm and inventiveness of films like the Final Destination series.
PG-13 horror is inherently problematic, inevitably made to broaden a film's mass market potential without much regard at all for the film's artistic integrity. The characters in Truth or Dare are cardboard cut-outs whose background stories, when they are revealed, are laughable at best. The CGI demon is also laughable rather than frightening, while what should be the film's centerpiece, the actual truths or dares, are almost uniformly bland and lacking in tension.
Truth or Dare is a rare Blumhouse miss, a low budget indie horror that looks and feels like every other low-budget indie horror out there and we've come to expect something better from Blumhouse.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic