TRUTH OR DARE Review

By Victoria Alexander, Film Critic

Delivers a clever ending answering the looming question, how to get out of the curse?

It is the same old story and that is why I went to see the latest iteration of the FINAL DESTINATION template. How would the Blumhouse Doctrine (the budget must be from $3-5 million, a dirt-cheap production, and everyone gets paid scale – though name actors can get a larger cut on the back end in exchange for smaller upfront pay) handle the basic premise of students getting cursed and then dying off one at a time? The pleasure comes in the inventive ways the screenwriters kill each one of the victims off.

IMDB.com lists the writing credits in alphabetical order: Jullian Jacobs, Michael Reisz, Christopher Roach and, of course, director Jeff Wadlow. Reisz’s agent got him the very important second credit, the “story by” credit.

You know from the ever-present trailer that at Spring Break in Mexico, a guy sitting at an outdoor bar lures innocent Olivia (Lucy Hale) and her 5 friends to follow him to a deserted church mission.

Olivia’s personality is cemented very quickly: instead of drinking and drugging in Mexico with her very, very BFF, Markie (Violett Beane), she is going to help Habitat for Humanity. Markie cancelled Olivia’s volunteer work but promised that all of them will do two weeks with Habitat if Olivia spends one week in Mexico with them.

Carter (Landon Liboiron) suggests the group play “Truth or Dare.” Finally, when the group reluctantly agrees to play, its game on!

Only then does Carter tells the group what they have agreed to. He was part of the last group lured to the mission. An evil spirit that was buried there was disturbed – he doesn’t know by who or when – and it wants to play the game of “Truth or Dare” to death.

The “truth” part has to be something that will hurt another person, preferably destroying their life. The “dare” part is something dangerous and harmful to oneself. Refuse to do either and you die one of those creative FINAL DESTINATION deaths. The evil spirit has a lot of other rules that keep the participants lagging just one step behind.

I am certain that some current global problems has everything to do with the fact that in 1798 Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt began “Egyptomania.” The unearthing and stealing of mummies for European society was a huge business. You were considered a “nobody” in Victorian society if you did not have a “mummy unrolling” party.

Mummies were imported as medical aids, souvenirs, for paint pigment, as interior décor, for making paper and as fertilizer. Mummification was a very strong religious practice.

The Egyptians believed that it was possible to live again after death, but this could only happen if the body was preserved in a lifelike form that the spirits known as the ba (personality) and the ka (life-force) could recognize. So now all these spirits are roaming around very unhappy that they cannot find their bodies.

Therefore, I am calling for the removal of mummies from being displayed in museums. It is offensive. These people never imagined that they would be dug up, their religion ridiculed as silly, and put on display in a glass case, so people can gawk at their shriveled bodies.

Would you like to be displayed in a glass case after you died?

With Carter high-tailing it out of Mexico, the group laughs off the creepy scenario – never having seen a horror movie.

Back at school the hallucinations begin, and each member of the group starts seeing their friends with weird, Jack Nicholson Joker lips, and using Azazel’s voice saying, “Truth or Dare?”

Now every one of Olivia’s friends have secrets, so the Truth part is easy. But that’s too easy – no one would take the “Dare” challenge.

Unfair! Secret rules? How can you dope out a way to beat the game if you don’t know all the rules? As the friends start dying, it’s up to Olivia and Markie’s boyfriend Lucas (Tyler Posey) to find the game’s flaw.

The merit these by-the-numbers horror films seeks relies on the last scene. How to wiggle out of the curse?

The set-up is unimaginative and leave all the tough questions unanswered. You just must believe that the evil spirit does not want to be disturbed. I would rather the spirit enjoy being set free and every person that dies gives the spirit a stronger presence in the real world.

If there is a TRUTH OR DARE 2, perhaps the many screenwriters will come up with some philosophical reason for the evil spirit’s agenda.

And if there is a TRUTH OR DARE 2, the players only win if they get someone to say, “Olly olly oxen free.” Or, the evil spirit changes its modus operandi and wants the group to play Hide and Go Seek at an IKEA – at Christmas time?

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com     

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