For Truth or Dare, Jeff Wadlow infuses the titular game for youngins with something of a supernatural bent that often ventures into a territory that is often borderline goofy, but I still couldn’t help but admire the film’s total commitment to its rather audacious concept. It’s really not a cinematic experience intended for those of us who happen to be born before 1995, so for all intents and purposes, I think Truth or Dare mostly hits its mark for those it was made for. And yes, even though the film does have a few silly moments, it also has two truly inspired set pieces that were downright brilliantly conceived that I enjoyed immensely.
Truth or Dare introduces us to a version of the titular activity where those who begin playing must adhere to the demands of the game as the stakes are continually raised, and if they do not follow through with their tasks, certain death awaits them. The unfortunate souls who find themselves at the center of the bedeviled contest are a group of college friends played by Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Sophia Ali, Nolan Gerard Funk, and Sam Lerner, as they end up playing “Truth or Dare” while on spring break down in Mexico at the behest of a mysterious stranger named Carter (Landon Liboiron). What they don’t realize is that Carter is setting them up to be tormented by a demonic version of the game, one that hones in on their weaknesses and forces them to expose ugly truths—and sometimes even has them doing things that are much, much worse.
Look, I fully understand that Truth or Dare demands that you must completely play along with its somewhat outrageous concept for the film to wholly work, but for me, I was willing to hop on board this crazy little ride because I have an affection for Cinema Ridiculi (a term I completely just made up here), and man, does Truth or Dare continuously just go for the gusto. The game starts things off slowly, with people having to do things like confess their true feelings about one of their friends or go streaking, but as things go on, the game gets nastier and nastier, and that’s when I really started to have fun.
As mentioned, there are two fantastic sequences in Truth or Dare that are just exemplary: the opening scene featuring a mysterious girl who takes the game to frightening levels inside a convenience store, and a rooftop sequence that forces a highly inebriated character to walk the entire perimeter of the top of a house, while chugging a bottle of vodka. Wadlow evokes a palpable sense of tension in both, and cleverly subverted my expectations as well.
The thing of it all is that Truth or Dare was made for a specific subset of the theater-going audience (read: not old fogeys like myself), and it's pretty enjoyable overall what Wadlow is able to do with this idea that’s a total 180 from what you’d expect from the initial concept (when it was first announced, I was wholly expecting something more in line with Would You Rather than anything with a supernatural slant to it). There are a few glaring issues in Truth or Dare that are a bit distracting (like getting a Día de los Muertos flyer in the mail in the springtime or one of the most ridiculous green screen shots I’ve seen in a major studio film in a very long time), but for the most part, I was willing to overlook some of these minor hiccups just because I was having an absolute blast watching these kids desperately battle against something they couldn’t stop (in some ways, the film becomes something of a metaphor for adulthood, but maybe I’m digging a little too deep). It's definitely not a horror movie for everyone, but to give you an idea of what to expect, Truth or Dare feels like a 2018 version of Wish Upon, which is completely my kind of jam (and I’m totally cool with being in the minority here).
Movie Score: 3/5