Monday, March 9, 2020

Pretty Little Truth Tellers

As said before, the Doll's House will always be a safe space for Pretty Little Liar alumni. There have been highs, there have been mediums, and as somewhat expected based on its reception, we now have a low.

But of course, me being me, not THAT low in comparison to the average person with taste.

Quick Plot: Olivia (Lucy Hale) is all set to spend her last spring break doing good with Habitat For Humanity, but her BFF Marky convinces/forces her to ditch that plan and head to Mexico for beaches and beer. Also in tow is Marky's boyfriend (and Olivia's obvious crush) Lucas, med student/drug dealer Tyson and his dependent girlfriend Penelope, and closeted (to his family) Brad. Wacky Instagram stories involving very attractive people ensue. 

On their final night out, Olivia is charmed by Carter, a handsome stranger who saves her from some mild sexual harassment from college pal Ronnie. Last call shuts their bar down but Carter suggests Olivia and her pals keep the fun going at an abandoned mission he found. Because they're young, drunk, and as dumb as they are pretty, the gang agrees.

Cue the titular party game. It only takes one round of truth for Carter to confess his intentions: he saw Olivia as a lonely pushover who would be easy to lure to this place. Once there, Carter pulled them into the game he and his own (mostly dead) pals began. Follow the rules and you won't die. Okay bye!

It's not until the group returns home and begins to resume their regular lives that they realize that Carter wasn't kidding. Olivia's turn of truth leads to a friendship-breaking reveal, while Ronnie's refusal of his dare ends with his death. The game is afoot, and while you can survive by completing your task, there's a lot on the line with every round.

If this sounds familiar, it might be because I covered ANOTHER film titled Truth or Dare about a group of attractive college students who begin to play a haunted game of, you know, truth or dare. The deep bonds of friendship between the film's central females are tested due to a love triangle. The token "hot couple always having sex who can't function apart" dies early, and the last few have to travel to the home of a shut-in female who survived a previous version of the game at the cost of her friends and face. 

Apparently, there's only one way to tell a horror story about this subject.

Directed by Cry Wolf's Jeff Wadlow and written by far too many screenwriters, Truth or Dare could be both a lot better and a lot worse. The film was savaged by critics when it came out in theaters, but as a two-years-later Hulu watch, it's exactly the kind of hot-people-in-peril horror flick that I tend to enjoy. In many ways, it really is indistinguishable from the same-titled movie that went straight to streaming the year before, and I could probably just remove one or two details from that review and come up with the same basic writeup.

There's nothing too groundbreaking here, though the film does pull a neat little twist with its ending. More importantly, Truth or Dare does make a point of doing what it can with its fairly bland cast, trying its best to have their tragedies carry some weight. It doesn't always work, but I can appreciate the effort.

High Points
Lucy Hale's Aria was my least favorite Liar, so I was fairly surprised to see her Olivia end up being the best part of (Blumhouse's) Truth or Dare. The film establishes a very clear do-gooder heart that guides her character, making her final choice a neat surprise

Low Points
I knew that Truth or Dare was jokingly subtitled "The SnapChat Filter Flick", but I don't know that I was properly prepared for just how overused the CGI smile and red eyes would be

Lessons Learned
When a stranger tells you to tell him to piss off, listen

Everyone loves Beyonce

The great thing about modern coeds is how much they talk in detail about their lives and motivations, ensuring new film audiences just stopping by for a peak understand every key part of who they are and what they fear

Look, Truth or Dare isn't a particularly good movie--and I honestly can't tell you whether it's the best truth or dare movie to come out in the last three years--but it's not nearly as bad as you've probably heard. There are less entertaining ways to kill 90 minutes of your free time. I dare you to try it. 

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