The Austin Chronicle

Blumhouse's Truth or Dare

Rated PG-13, 100 min. Directed by Jeff Wadlow. Starring Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Sophia Ali, Landon Liboiron, Hayden Szeto, Nolan Gerard Funk, Sam Lerner, Tom Choi.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 13, 2018

Why maverick producer Jason Blum chose to affix his company’s name to the title of this particular production instead of, say, last year’s Academy Award-winning Get Out is far more mysterious than anything that happens onscreen in Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare. Well-paced and featuring a game cast, this is still a yawny yarn that steals outright from Hideo Nakata’s seminal Ringu and the more recent It Follows, as well as several of Blum’s own prior productions. I didn’t glance at my watch even once, but only because my eyes were glued to the screen in bemused bafflement as I waited for something – anything – new and terrifying to happen to the usual bevy of interchangeable doomed teens. By film’s end I was sorely missing the entirety of the Final Destination franchise.

The script, by a quartet of writers whose previous credits seem to involve very little screenwriting but a whole lot of producerial work ranging from Big Brother to Tila Tequila, is numbingly standard fare, with zero surprises bar a couple of hoary jump-scares. Six college seniors travel down to Ciudad Juarez for one final spring break blowout. Good girl Olivia (Hale of Pretty Little Liars) would rather skip the debauchery in favor of working for Habitat for Humanity (!), but is pulled along by her best bae Markie (Beane) and obscure object of desire Lucas (Posey) because: tequila y salsa, etc. A scruffy stranger (Liboiron) promises them a rad afterparty in an abandoned clifftop mission, but once there he ensnares them in the titular game, which is cursed and follows them back home after the revelries cease. Presented with the options of ignoring the demonic, Snapchat-filtered creatures demanding the teens pick between wicked little T or Ds or instant death, the cast thins as quickly as the viewers' patience.

Director Wadlow's most grievous error in this otherwise thoroughly meh and shock-free schlocker is eliminating any hint of the visceral visual violence that made the Final Destination films a bloody good guilty pleasure. Characters die in creatively horrible ways all through this film, but there’s nary a trace of anything but the tamest trickle of blood. Irritatingly, Wadlow cuts away from the sporadically inspired and often ghastly consequences of the cursed game in favor of pointless reaction shots from other characters. I realize the PG-13 rating is intended to corral the under-17 set into the theatre on opening weekend, but the lack of the good old ultraviolence here will have die-hard horror fans rolling their eyes and gnashing their teeth in frustration.

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