Movie Review: 'Truth or Dare' (2018)

Young people, alcohol, deceit, and bad ideas. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, that’s right…everything. Even with its fantastical bent of horror, “Truth or Dare” can be viewed as a cautionary tale with an honest narrative on the real cost of those forces colliding. As is the case in “Final Destination,” young people in “Truth or Dare” try to escape their deadly fate, as some are more successful than others.

The movie opens with a brutal outcome before catching up with a group of friends, who decide to head down for what is supposed to be a carefree trip to Mexico. Instead, they end up being lured into playing a cursed version of “truth or dare” on their final night there. Before long they realize they are still playing the game, which they will be hard-pressed to win.

Movies have explored this concept in the past with the aforementioned “Final Destination” franchise and perhaps, most recently “It Follows” and “Unfriended.” For its part, “Truth or Dare” falls somewhere in between the latter two flicks, in terms of quality. A vital upside is that it features college students instead of high school teens at the fore of its plot.

"Truth or Dare" lacks the fright factor and originality conjured by the criminally underrated “Unfriended.” Although it is entertaining and less frustrating regarding the rules and characters featured in “It Follows.” The greatest issue “Truth or Dare” faces is with its characters, something 2017’s horror flick “Happy Death Day” handles brilliantly.

The biggest issue with “Truth or Dare” is that it seems to believe that a cheater is entitled to have all of their friends fall over themselves begging for forgiveness when they expose the cheater. And that you should always cover for a cheater because they are a friend. All of which makes no moral sense. At its core “Truth or Dare” is a morality tale presented as a horror flick, but its beliefs on truth and treachery are confusing.

There are some valuable lessons the movie shares regarding people, who consider themselves morally superior until they are pushed with consequences they do not approve of. They like the ideas they espouse until confronted with their reality. Sometimes the greatest hypocrites are sitting in plain sight and “Truth or Dare” does an excellent job of pointing that truth out. And there is an especially thought-provoking angle to the plot’s full circle twist.

Preying on the fact many viewers are familiar with Lucy Hale as one of the “Pretty Little Liars,” the movie uses that to play with our expectations a little. Hale is no stranger to playing a character with secrets, and she does a terrific job pulling off this one, as well.

Surprisingly, “Teen Wolf” star Tyler Posey is given relatively little do, which feels like a waste of casting given his character’s limited screen time. The ensemble that surrounds Hale and Posey give memorable performances with Sophia Ali and Hayden Szeto proving to be the standouts.

“Kick-Ass 2” director Jeff Waldow moves the movie along at a steady pace that does not allow one's mind to wander. If you embrace “Truth or Dare” for what it can be interpreted as you can enjoy it as a Saturday night movie. It is a melodrama with horror at its core. It is equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking. All told, "Truth or Dare" is not a bad way to spend a slice of the weekend.

Rating: 6.5/10

[Featured Image by Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions]

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