Truth or Dare, also called Truth or Die, is a British horror film in the revenge/teen slasher mould. While it has some interesting ideas and is nicely made, ultimately it is neither interesting nor shocking enough to make it anything remarkable. None of the characters are likeable and who lives or dies and why really doesn’t hold your interest.
Spoilers after the break.
The story starts like so many of these films do with a booze and drug fuelled party. This one is a university end of term party in the UK but could just as easily be a high school prom or college frat party in the US or even a standard parents-are out-of-town-so-lets-get-hammered party in any country in the world. This party has all the usual suspects in attendance; popular, pretty girls and popular, athletic boys as well as the shady people who are popular due to the varieties of illicit substances they can provide. Of course there is also the stereotypical nerd who no one talks to.
As per the default script, the nerd makes a fool of himself trying to chat up one of the popular girls. She is very nice about it but her boyfriend doesn’t like it very much and beats him up but his friends intervene before it gets too out of hand.
Fast forward an unspecified amount of time and the girl has left her boyfriend, principally because of his violent behaviour towards the nerd and is on her way with some of her friends to the nerd’s birthday party at his huge mansion in the country. This promises to be yet another booze and drug fuelled party and many of the people going are only attracted by the promise of free booze.
When they arrive, it becomes apparent that the party is not at the main house but actually in a cabin in the woods. There is no reason at all for this to be the case, the writers just seem to want to cram in as many horror stereotypes as they can. When they arrive at the cabin, it seems that only the key group of people involved in the events at the earlier party have turned up. Very quickly it is revealed that the party is actually a ruse to get these people together in an isolated location so that nerd’s brother can settle some kind of score with them.
The brother is a creepy soldier who claims to have interrogation experience from several tours in Afghanistan and uses this “experience” to try to get the truth out of the group about what happened at the earlier party. Some interesting ideas about compliance and trust are touched on but really the whole movie is a set up to allow for some torture and murder to go on. I’m a little concerned to write things like this but where this movie falls down is that the torture and murder isn’t very interesting. In a film that sacrifices most other attributes to concentrate on this kind of thing you expect a lot more drama and innovation but the “interrogation” is very repetitive and not very dramatic or shocking.
The brother could be a charismatic anti-hero and he is played well with some very creepy performances. But his dialogue is quite stilted with lots of blathering on about family honour and casual homophobia which seems to have been shoehorned into the script to justify part of the ending. The rest of the characters are more or less interchangeable.
Of course as the body count rises, new information comes to light but I’m reluctant to refer to this as “twists” or “revelations” as none of them are really interesting enough to justify the description.
One of the captives escapes and, instead of freeing her friends runs off into the woods. Interestingly it is her friends that convince her not to let them go. Ostensibly this is because one of them has been shot in the leg and can’t run away but really it is just because the writers have decided that they need these people to stay in the cabin so that the ending can work.
So the escaped girl runs away to the main house for help. This is idiotic as it has already been revealed that a. the house is empty and locked up and b. that the entire family is in on and approves of the events in the cabin. Despite a. she is able to walk straight in the front door and explore the house. In the house, more information comes to light and the escaped girl somehow manages to fail to shoot the crazed brother even though she has a shotgun at close range in a narrow corridor!
Finally we get to the denouement and get to find out exactly what happened at the party and who is at fault for everything that has happened. I found this over played and a little confusing/pointless but it was a different ending to what I expected and the last 10 minutes or so are actually quite good so I won’t spoil them here.
Notice how I haven’t used any names or the word postcard in this ramble?