Truth or Dare Directed by Jeff Wadlow

Starring Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Nolan Gerard Funk, Landon Liboiron, Sam Lerner
Truth or Dare Directed by Jeff Wadlow
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You can probably guess the basic plot from the title: some exceptionally good-looking college kids play a cursed game of truth or dare, an evil spirit kills those who don't follow the rules, blah blah blah. This is by-the-numbers horror that delivers clichés rather than surprises — but is that such a bad thing? After all, tropes become tropes because they're effective, and Truth or Dare is spooky even when you can see the gears in motion.
 
The story opens with our fantastically attractive protagonists taking a spring break trip to Mexico, where frivolity turns to fear during a clumsily introduced game of truth or dare in an abandoned mission. From there, the curse follows the gang home and begins picking them off one by one, Final Destination-style. Jump-scares and squirm-inducing light gore abound.
 
It's all very standard stuff, particularly since the plot follows the rule of Chekhov's gun at every turn: the closeted gay friend (whose sole characteristic is his sexuality) is forced to come out to his homophobic father; a tense love triangle leads to a steamy sex scene; and suppressed family drama is repeatedly hinted at before finally being brought out into the open. It's contrived stuff that seems like it came out of a screenwriting textbook, making it easy to predict every plot turn five minutes before it happens, although there's something satisfying in the way it consistently delivers exactly what you expect.
 
Any time a character becomes possessed by the demonic spirit, they break into an exaggerated Aphex Twin smile that's silly rather than scary, leading to a few sniggers from the audience. But despite all the formulaic clunkiness, the cast sells it convincingly. In particular, Lucy Hale is magnetic in the lead role as Olivia, a young activist torn between altruism and survival. Her group of friends (including Tyler Posey as the hunky love interest Lucas and Violett Beane as the hedonistic best friend Markie) are similarly compelling, so you'll be rooting for them to stay alive — although not too upset when the characters systematically kick the bucket.
 
The game of truth or dare is designed to test your limits and force you to admit embarrassing secrets. With that in mind, here's the truth from me: as dumb as this movie was, I kind of enjoyed it.

(Blumhouse Productions)