Sunday, March 31, 2019

Party Games

No, Truth or Dare is not an Asylum Studios adaption of the Blumhouse theatrical release of the same title. Much like meteors in 1998, sometimes a random plot point becomes all the rage in one cinematic year. From 2017-2018, that rage was, it would seem, teenage party games.

Quick Plot: In 1983, a group of college kids play a fatal game of Truth or Dare, leaving one lone survivor to live out her remaining years with an acid-scarred face but in a lovely, hard candy filled home. 

Some thirtysomething years later, a new gaggle of ridiculously attractive young people decide to spend Halloween weekend in that same former dormitory. Sure, this time there are cell phone videos, but really, a haunted party game can only evolve so much.

The rules of this version are simple: three rounds of truth or (mostly) dares, to be completed within 48 hours. Those who fail to complete the challenge die in semi-Final Destination ways so that their autopsies can be justified as bizarre accidents or creative suicides. If that doesn't sound Nightmare On Elm Street-ish enough for you, enter a very welcome Heather Lagenkamp to lend some maturity to the proceedings as the sole survivor of the last Truth or Dare massacre.

Directed by The Girl In the Photographs' Nick Simon, Truth Or Dare shares the same mean bone and black comedic sensibilities. That's mostly a good thing: by no means can this actually be called a good movie, but as someone who braved the '90s era of WB stars put through mild torment on the big screen, rougher dead teenager movies have their own certain charm. 

You can find a lot wrong in Truth or Dare -- bland characters, stupid decisions, and cockroach CGI so ridiculous that it's almost adorable -- but if you go in with the same attitude that made me the #1 fan of The Sand (yes, that's the movie about killer sand), then it's the kind of dumb fun horror movie that is weirdly watchable. This is the kind of film where a character announces her vegetarianism only to be forced to eat burnt human skin a few scenes later. 

You know what you're getting into.

High Points
Truth or Dare could have easily contained all of its action in its semi-haunted house, but its choice to break the game up and take it deeper into the real world is somewhat refreshing

Low Points
It's rare to find deep characterization in a movie like this, but it would have been nice to have some sort of character development that wasn't entirely based on who's dating whom. The movie makes a last minute attempt to fit its premise into a deeper "our punishments fit our hidden crimes," but it's so rushed and ultimately incomplete that it comes off as comically inept

Lessons Learned
If your friends refer to your partner as "what’s his face," the relationship is probably not long for this world

Baking soda has a roughly 50% acid protection rate

The power of besties involves being able to provide quick synonyms on call

Truth or Dare is not good, but hey: it's kind of fun. Queue it up on Netflix when you want to turn your brain off and enjoy watching pretty young people cut each other's fingernails. 

Don't act like you're above these things.

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