5 Oct 2013

'Truth or Dare' Review

Director: Robert Heath
Writers: Matthew McGuchan
Stars: Tom Kane, Liam Boyle, Jennie Jacques
Running Time: 95 mins
Sub-Genre: Torture, Slasher, Thriller, Comedy, British
Release: August 2012

Young British boys and girls travel to an isolated cabin after being promised a night of heavy partying. Instead of the fun they hoped for, they meet a killer out to reap vengeance on them for the death of his brother.

Truth or Dare, or un-cleverly named 'Truth or Die' for fans across the waters is a Brit torture flick that presents everything that is wrong with the horror genre today, and although it is starting to redeem itself with films such as The Cabin in the Woods, You're Next, The Conjuring and even Evil Dead, Truth or Dare is a reminder that ambition doesn't always evoke success, and success doesn't come from mediocre suspense and bad-taste torture-porn.

I reviewed this film a while back, but decided to go again as the last contained about 10 lines at the most, and after a second watch I felt that I had to give a decent review an not a half-assed attempt, almost like the film itself. Truth or Dare tries, I can give it that, I mean you can feel the ambition through the material, but the display just isn't as reliable as it perhaps should have been. This may not be exactly a "bad" torture film, you can appreciate it's subtle display of gore and mild suspense  which is not the case with the mind-numbingly bland violence presented through the endless numerous Saw sequels; it has the edge over Saw (maybe not 1 or 2 but definitely the rest) and that's what makes it watchable, but it doesn't differentiate itself enough to appreciate what it has to offer. It's all a little too unexciting, and it's all a little too overdone.

The violence may not be "peek through the gaps of your hands" material, and isn't a bland watch either, but it just doesn't provide enough savvy torture to increase the fun factor that is established through the early stages of the film, and if the torture toned down the serious-o-meter then maybe this would have made for a more fulfilling watch. Time and time again directors make the same mistake of following the lines of Saw, just to bring in the big-bucks, but what they too often misplace is the fun element that could make the gore that little bit more worth while, and not slapped on the screen sprayed with the red-est of blood. That's where Truth or Dare misses out, it abandons the fun tone halfway through in replacement for a dramatic theme that just doesn't work, making the end result a mixed bag of watchable and unbearable.

Aside from a the odd bad performance the acting is pretty solid, excluding it from that badly acted cheesy cheap shit that you normally find in this sort of horror. A brave and solidly funny performance from Jennie Jacques keep things afloat, and the rest of the cast do a decent job from stopping it from completely sinking; the acting is good so I can give it that. The kills are fine but don't bring anything new to the table, but with that sub-genre can you really anymore? One scene in particular that involves the unknowing choice of water or battery acid leaves a successful lasting impression, but the rest is just flat and forgettable.

VERDICT: Truth or Dare may benefit from some strong performances and light suspense but its ambition ultimately fails due to its muddled tone, lack of originality and its forgettable display. Leave this one for the shelf shall we?

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