A handful of guilty pleasures all rolled up into one enjoyably preposterous package.
Who needs a conventional slasher film? That’s the question proposed by some of Blumhouse Productions’ most unique efforts, 2015’s Unfriended and 2017’s Happy Death Day. In the former, beautiful young people are picked off one by one in a supernatural slasher that takes place entirely on a computer screen via video chat. In the latter, there is only one beautiful young person, but she is killed every single day in increasingly unique ways, caught in a time loop until she figures out the identity of her killer.
Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (the official tongue-in-cheek title, per the opening title card) continues this trend by killing off its beautiful young cast via a centuries-old demon that has possessed the simple childhood game of Truth or Dare. (Don’t think about it too much) “If you ask, you’re in,” according to this movie’s shtick, so when a group of spring-breaking college students get tricked into playing by a young man caught in the game’s clutches himself, they quickly find themselves entrapped in a never-ending cycle where if they don’t play, they die.
What’s so great about these three Blumhouse horrors is that they follow the blueprints of slash-happy predecessors like Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street to a T, in plot beats, character archetypes and tone. Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare gives us the strong-minded final girl (Lucy Hale), the pretty-boy male lead (Tyler Moreno), the promiscuous best friend (Violett Beane), the gay guy (Hayden Szeto), the pretentious douchebag (Nolan Gerard Funk), the alcoholic party girl (Sophia Ali) and the horny, annoying fuckboy (Sam Lerner).
Anyone with the slightest bit of knowledge of the slasher genre can likely guess the exact order of everybody’s death, but you can’t really argue predictability as a fault here when this is a genre that relies so much on offering inventive ways of telling a story that’s been told countless times before. Everybody hits their marks; even director Jeff Wadlow, who collaboratively revised a script and story by Michael Reisz to create something that is at once aggressively stupid yet undeniably entertaining.
There’s not much to be scared at here, if at all—the performances are often wooden, the dialogue can be cringe-worthy and the shit-eating grins that characters produce during the game’s temptations never ceases to bring out a belly laugh (it’s basically a re-appropriated Trollface meme). But damn it all if this movie isn’t a handful of guilty pleasures all rolled up into one enjoyably preposterous package.
More a comedy than anything else, Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare works because it refuses to take itself seriously, akin to how Unfriended and Happy Death Day tackled their ridiculous premises before it. These movies are sincere in their shameless silliness, and that’s what makes them so fun. When a crappy horror movie tries too hard to be a great one, it’s easy to see through the disguise. When a movie like Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare says screw it and throws caution to the wind, its reckless abandon makes the movie all the more engaging. Fun and trashy on nearly every level, this nifty joyride races into B-movie glory with each accelerated absurdity. If you just shut up and enjoy the ride, you may be surprised.