In reality, the party game Truth or Dare often results in teenage girls and boys wincing as they must all kiss one another for five seconds on the lips, before jokingly spitting out the germs soon after. Such a pattern is generally repeated until someone in the group either passes out, or goes in with tongues. However in Robert Heath’s psychological horror Truth or Dare, the game is taken to another level, as the harmless party event soon becomes a matter of life or death.
We follow a close group of friends at University, who spend much of their time going out partying, getting drunk and enjoying themselves. However on the outskirts of the group is the dejected loner Felix (Tom Kane), who is beaten up at a house party by Chris (Jack Gordon) having made an advance on his girlfriend Gemma (Florence Hall) during a game of truth or dare. Following the incident the group don’t hear from Felix for a few months, before he invites them all to his birthday party at his country home.
Joining Chris and Gemma are friends Paul (Liam Boyle), Eleanor (Jennie Jacques) and Luke (Alexander Vlahos) – a collective excited at the prospect of a party taking place at Felix’s considerably rich parents’ mansion. However upon their arrival they are greeted by Felix’s older brother Justin (David Oakes) who informs them all that Felix is away on holiday and his flight has been delayed. The group decide to stay and party nonetheless, and during a game of truth or dare it transpires that Felix had in fact committed suicide, and the group have been specifically brought here by Justin to face torture as the ex-soldier plans on getting to the bottom of his younger brother’s death.
The premise actually holds much potential, as a psychological yet gory horror which mostly takes place in just one room between only a small set of characters. There is much promise within such a narrative, yet Heath deviates away from the simplistic approach and attempts too much, as the film fails where it should succeed. Most of the hard work is undone within the absurd ending, as the final quarter of an hour is just ridiculous, as Truth or Dare becomes one of those films that gives off the impression that the film makers thought up a ludicrous ending first, before then desperately attempting to work an entire story around it.
In fairness, a film such as this needs to be overstated and exaggerated to work, if it takes itself seriously that doesn’t benefit anyone, so credit must go to Heath for playing up to this and thriving within the immoderate nature of the film. Such a sentiment is made clear when the creepy older guardsman appears with the archetypical “this place is abandoned” line, immediately followed by laughter from our protagonists who have, just like the audience, acknowledged the stupidity and predictability of such a scenario.
The acting also plays up to the overstated nature of the film, in a sense that it’s not very good – with both Gordon and Jacques the key perpetrators. However, their performances oddly suit the film, although this shouldn’t work as an excuse for what is a poorly acted feature. Oakes, on the other hand, is genuinely impressive, really encapsulating the sinister, malicious demeanour of his role, making for a plausible and rather creepy character – important for Heath to have got right because within a film such as this you need to believe in your antagonist and Oakes pulls it off brilliantly.
However the same can’t be said for the remainder of the group and rather than root for their survival, instead you sit there hoping that each and every one of them is killed off – and given the annoying nature to their personalities, torture does seem like the only answer.
Yet while we watch feverishly as our lead roles are tormented, unfortunately it seems that they aren’t the only ones being punished, as we too must pay our dues – by having to sit through this uninspiring and tedious feature film.