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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Truth or Dare (2017) Horror Game

Truth or Dare (2017) - This is a NOT COMPLETELY SPOILER FREE commentary. In this 2017 release we have a group of way too good looking college kids getting together in a creepy old house where in 1983 another group of college kids played Truth or Dare leaving all but one dead. In fact the opening scene shows the finale of that game. This movie is almost the exact same story of Truth or Dare? (2018) that I watched during the 31 days of Halloween last year. That one I questioned the motivations of the characters that seemed always to be a me first attitude. They had a slightly different game than the characters in this film where the dares were individual and could not be traded off; leading to some really selfish decisions where they either shared some amazing hurtful secrets or played a deadly game of dare. They had the choice where in this film thing played very differently.
  This film made only a year earlier than the above mentioned Blumhouse production, was a made for SyFy television jam, maybe that is why everyone is so damn good looking in it. If only SyFy knew a year later a version of this story would hit theaters and make a cool 85 million maybe they would have gone that route. At any rate I don't think you can make a horror movie about the game Truth or Dare without doing something similar to what these two films did.
  Let's get back to the film at hand. Eight friends meet at a house that is supposedly haunted and where a couple decades before the ill fated game had been played. Carlton who did the rental wants to in a very light hearted way, play the game and see if any ghosts go bump  in the night. The problem is that when this is announced the spirit, demon, demigod of the game has other plans for the crew. An ominous tolling of the broken clock coming back to life marks the start of the game. It is three rounds and the master of ceremony is not playing fair. In this version of the game everyone writes probing questions to answer truthfully an if they take a dare a dare that lets be clear should not kill them. Alex (Cassandra Scerbo) goes first, and gets a dare to kiss her best friend Maddie (Brytni Sarpy), innocent and enough start to the game. Maddie goes next and gets a truth question that seemed to know a secret she was hiding. "Did you sleep with Tyler?" of course she did even though he Alex's boyfriend and this of course is going to ruin the fun of the night even if things do not get out of control. Lying gets the demon upset and she finds herself telling her best friend that she and Tyler (Mason Dye) had a drunken fling. They stop the game but the game master will have none of that. A dare is presented out of thin air to Tyler and he has to put his hand on a hot stove to get passed his turn.  Naturally there is quite a bit of disbelief in the supernatural nature of what is happening and the group bickers about what is happening and who is causing it. Tyler refuses to do the deed and suddenly the mystical forces that want him to intervene, moving objects and forcing his hand onto a hot burner. The remaining five friends still have a turn in this round, Jessie (Alexxis Lemire), Luke (Ricardo Hoyos), Carter (Luke Baines), Holt (Harvey Guillen), and Addison (Christina Masterson)
  There is this point where for us as an audience we start saying, "I would say fuck it and just leave," and the film strategically provides a supernatural boarding up of the place so everyone knows they can not get out of their situation. Forcing them to just do dares, the idea of Truths is hit or miss at this point coming up less frequently. Messages appear on the walls to spur them on and the dares get so much more dangerous. Electrocution, group afflicted bodily injury, punishment for lying on a truth. Surprisingly this film does not stay in the house for the duration. When one of the group is killed they all manage to leave the house, before the first round of the games is done. Are they free?, no not even close, there are two more dares that must be done. As well as a bunch of exposition to fill in the gaps about the rules of play, rules which really are not geared to let the player win the game.
  When we finish three of the group are dead and the rest of the friends realize they have to help each other and finish the final two rounds to make the nightmare end. So they reconvene back at the house with this purpose. The ante in this film is always being raised and round two consists of Drinking poison, pulling out teeth, Russian roulette, getting run over by a car, getting suffocated by roaches. The last one with classic SyFy CGI. When the round is done there are only two friends left to finish the third round.
  Here is where I think they misinterpret the first of the final two challenges, it says Remove 7 living body parts. The survivors interpret that to mean 7 different living body parts and go about hacking each other up. I would have just cut off seven hairs and been done with that bad boy. I don't see how chopping off fingers and feet is any different. Seven living body parts is all it said.  I suppose that properly sets up the final dare and of course a scene of distracted driving which was not completely convincing by the actor. The less than clear ending makes me wonder that maybe SyFy was not planning part two while this was being filmed.  Over all I was not offended by this film, in fact considering some of the stuff SyFy puts out I think this was on the good end of production for them. I liked that the dares could be shared and with a bit of creativity you could survive most of the events. Of course the game master is feeding off your fears and punishing you secrets but not really giving many chances for revealing truths so it was a loaded game from the start. I reviewed this as a compliment to listening to the Stream Queens Podacast, you can download that by getting the Zombie Grrlz feed and let me tell you, it is worth your time. Very entertaining if spoiler filled in its approach it is really fine, funny and so enjoyable.

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