TRUTH OR DARE Review by Alan Frank

Horror movies (like Dracula himself?) remain the most resilient of all film genres.

And the oldest too.

The unsuspecting Parisians who watched the Lumiere Brothers’ seminal 50-second film L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat/The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station on 28th December 1885 screamed under the impression that they were about to be crushed to death by the silent locomotive.

After which Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy and all the other classic horrors emerged on the screen to scare audiences shirtless and establish the genre.

While other cinema categories have come and gone, nowadays most weeks herald the arrival of yet another shocker, many of them making their minor bows before taking their natural places on DVD and television.

Spring Breakers

A scene from TRUTH OR DARE (2018)

And where shockers were once the near-exclusive domain for monsters, mad scientists, the living dead and other things that go bump in the night, these days the target audience is a teenage one, resulting in more and more teenage protagonists.

Here a bunch of movie-style college friends celebrating their “Final Spring break before life tears us apart” head for a haunted house in a remote town in Mexico. There, lured by a stranger into playing the eponymous game (allegedly already having disposed of seven teenagers), they are plunged into an escalating nightmare of terror and grisly death catalysed by their desperate answers to the question: Truth or Dare?

When Sophia Ali’s character Penelope states “We’re not playing the game. It’s playing us” , she could also be summing up the film which, while competent enough on both sides of the camera, never adds up to much more than a time passer for genre completists.

Chills and Thrills?

“I wanted to avoid tropes we’ve see before”, states director Jeff Wadlow.

Well that’s his view and he’s welcome to it.

Wadlow, his three fellow screenwriters (Jillian Jacobs, Michael Reisz, Christopher Roach) and a hard-working but unexceptional cast, struggling to make the most of their material, have delivered a mostly predictable series of chills and thrills that in the days of double feature would have been tucked away appropriately at the bottom of the bill.

Truth or dare?

I dare you to find out for yourself.

Dir. Jeff Wadlow, US, 2018, 100 mins, cert.15

Cast: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Sophia Ali, Landon Liboiron, Nolan Gerard Funk, Sam Lerner, Brady Smith

TRUTH OR DARE is in cinemas from Friday 13th April, 2018.

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