It’s spring, and that means it’s time for a new teen-friendly, concept-based horror film from producer extraordinaire Jason Blum. But while “Truth or Dare” has succeeded in capturing the attention of teen audiences, it fails in its execution. This is largely because the concept can’t come close to matching the one driving last year’s breakout hit from Blumhouse, “Happy Death Day.”
In “Truth or Dare,” a group of college kids on spring break in Mexico wander into a creepy abandoned church where they, egged on by a mysterious stranger, play the eponymous game. What they don’t know, but soon find out, is that the stakes of this game are particularly high: if you refuse to do the dare or don’t tell the truth, you die. As their friends start dying off, the students are forced to determine who (or what) is behind the deadly game, and how they can edit it before it kills all of them.
Because the central conceit is weak, the film struggles to find its footing. The first 30 minutes or so are devoted to introducing the characters and setting up the rest of the story, and neither of them are interesting enough to hold your attention. As groups of doomed youngsters go, this one is particularly uninteresting. It’s hard to muster any real sympathy for any of this bland group of stereotypes. While kills are what drive horror films (and the ones here range from “meh” to “oh, I guess that was kind of cool”), being able to identify with the protagonist(s) is important, too, and “Truth or Dare” makes it difficult to do so. It’s a shame when the best part of the movie is the trailer for “The First Purge.”
Still, once the movie finds its legs it’s interesting enough to hold attention. It’s not a stinker, but it’s not particularly worth your time, either.