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Blumhouse's Truth Or Dare (Unrated Director's Cut)
Truth or Dare is a horror-thriller from producer Jason Blum (Get Out, Split). The film stars Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) and a host of other young actors. The film is from director Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2). It's a thriller reminiscent of late-night 1990's genre films.
Olivia Barron (Lucy Hale) is invited to a party with some friends: Lucas Moreno (Tyler Posey), Markie Cameron (Violett Beane), Brad Chang (Hayden Szeto), and Penelope Amari (Sophia Ali). Expecting a mundane trip, things become complicated when the students get involved in a game of "truth or dare" with significantly higher stakes than your average spin-the-bottle style game. With this supernatural game, the stakes are raised to life or death. If you can't say the truth or follow through on the dare you die. You have to pass along a truth or dare to another for the game to continue.
Markie Cameron is faced with the truth of her multiple affairs: she regularly cheats on boyfriend Lucas Moreno. Olivia is faced with the fact that she's in love with her best friend's boyfriend, Lucas, and the fact that she's aware of her friend's unfaithfulness to Lucas. Brad must face his own fears in struggling with his homosexuality and his fear of confronting his parents about his identity. Penelope faces her own inner demons and struggles. Each character in the film must face their flaws in order to not die during this wicked game of "truth or dare" to the extreme.
The film's trailers give away the film's primary visual gimmick: the horror-style Snapchat filters with an array of warped appearances of the characters when the "game" turns on. Each face turns to a darkly menacing expression and style. These special effects are truly awful and the quality and style feels mind-numbing in it's horrendous execution. It's dull, cheap, and an ill-conceived gimmick.
The score by Matthew Margeson (Kingsman: The Secret Service) is a bit of a 90's throwback with an emphasis on jump-scares. The score is your typical genre-flick offering with the emphasis on the shock value of surprising the audience more-so than is it a score focused on the emotional or dramatic.
The cinematography by Jacques Jouffret (The Purge) is slickly produced but lacks a feeling of authenticity. The movie can't be totally faulted for it's crisp photography but it also isn't something which stands out as being particularly effective on the whole. It doesn't make a big impression and the digital photography feels too cold and perfunctory. This film's photography is a good example of why the warmth and feeling of actual film can be so much more effective and important to a film's artistic style. While digital can look excellent sometimes... when it lacks depth, or feeling, it falters.
The screenplay by Michael Reisz, Jillian Jacobs, Christopher Roach, and Jeff Wadlow is the film's biggest weakness. This film lacks an even remotely interesting or compelling story. The characters always feel like generic caricatures. These characters do not reflect actual people. The concept and execution of the game is a ridiculous event too: the entire game relies on everyone doing ill-will on to others with no character deciding to do something right for another by ending the game. It makes this a cringe-worthy film experience where no characters feel relatable or likable.
Directed by Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2), the film also lacks any great scares or horror-style sequences. If you're watching this for a scary flick, too, you'll be disappointed to find this can't even deliver on that base level. The film is not even remotely scary and feels like a watered-down made for television movie. There's nothing even remotely scary about awful CG special effects that remind you of smartphone filters. There's also nothing scary in a movie with a mind-numbing story which is constantly meandering towards the brink of its own extinction. Wadlow's style of filmmaking feels unoriginal, generic, and worst of all, uninspired. I dare you to skip this movie.
Truth or Dare is presented on Blu-ray with a 1080p high definition MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation. This is a strong high-definition release with excellent sharpness, clarity, and overall definition. The digital photography looks slick and modern. Color reproduction is excellent as well. While the film has an almost "too-digital" look at times, it's hard to argue with the quality of the film production photography: it just lacks in character or the feel of a more natural cinematic presentation.
The release is presented in lossless quality DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The audio quality is fine with good dialogue clarity which is easy to understand. There is appropriate emphasis on the score music by Matthew Margeson. The release includes optional descriptive video service and subtitles in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing), Spanish, and French.
This release of Truth or Dare: Unrated Director's Cut includes both the PG-13 version and the unrated version.
Please Note: The unrated version is almost identical to the theatrical version with it just running 30 seconds longer. This is not some sort of "extended edition director's cut" version.
Feature Commentary with director Jeff Wadlow and actress Lucy Hale
Game On: The Making of Truth or Dare (HD, 7 min.) featurette is a behind the scenes feature on the making of the film featuring interviews with the director, producer Jason Blum, and the cast of the film.
Directing the Deaths (HD, 4 min.) is a featurette in which the director discusses the execution of the death scenes throughout the film.
Truth or Dare is a horrendous horror-thriller with no originality, wit, or style. The film has awful CG effects, a paper-thin story with unlikable characters, and a lack of even moderately successful scares. This film fails on every level. The truth of the matter? This movie sucks, plain and simple.
If there's any silver living to my having watched it, it's that I've hit a new review milestone writing for DVDTalk. This review marks my 600th review for the site. Now to watch something with heart...
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.