It’s Spring Break Bitches! But rather than purchase some pink balaclavas and embark on a drug and sex-fuelled crime spree with a cornrowed sleazebag gangsta, good girl Olivia (Lucy Hale) and her cookie cutter, centrally cast, Breakfast Club of college friends, slaggy BFF Markie (Violet Beane), Markie’s boyfriend (and Olivia’s not-so-secret crush) Lucas (Tyson Posey), the Indian one, the gay one, the kind of an asshole one and the other kind of an asshole one, head down Mexico way for some PG-13-friendly debauchery which mostly seems to involve drinking American light beer.

On their last night in Mexico, Olivia gets chatting to the charming, enigmatic Carter (Landon Liboiron) who entices the group to a derelict mission/former nunnery where he tricks them into playing a game of Truth Or Dare?, revealing when it’s his turn that the game is cursed and that if they refuse to play or break the rules, supernatural forces will kill them, before disappearing into the night.

Returning to the US, Olivia and her friends find themselves tormented by terrifying, demonic visitations and are forced against their will to continue to play the increasingly dangerous game. As the friends start to die one by one, the survivors realise they must return to Mexico and find a way to defeat an ancient evil before it’s too late.

Something of a rare mis-step for the usually reliable Blumhouse, Truth Or Dare is fun but instantly forgettable, a cinematic magpie that’s not just derivative but an outright thief, stealing wholesale from the likes of Ringu, Final Destination and that Evanescence video were the Christian Rock crowd turn into gurning demons, mixing them together into a genre cocktail that holds few surprises, mechanically serving up the requisite by-the-number jumps scares and laughs as it bumps off its unlikable roster of ciphers in more or less the order you expect.

As possibly the worst best friend ever, Lucy Hale makes the most of her underdeveloped good girl role, thoroughly punished for her hypocrisy, her darkest secrets and desires while Violet Beane’s Markie is feisty, tragic and far more sympathetic than Hale’s heroine. With the exception of Landon Liboiron’s duplicitous Carter the rest of the cast are fairly colourless. The true star of the film however is obviously the game of Truth Or Dare itself and, as stars go, it’s rather lacklustre.

From the chess game at the heart of The Seventh Seal to the hellish video games of Brainscan and Sequence Break, to the cursed board games of Ouija and Jumanji, to Hellraiser’s Lament Configuration puzzle box, it’s impossible to come away from Truth Or Dare without feeling somehow that the demonic game itself feels a bit, well, low stakes, it’s most potentially effective scene – forcing the closeted gay character to come out to his homophobic cop dad – takes place entirely offscreen while the kills themselves, the meat and potatoes of slick exploitation fare like Truth Or Dare, are pretty pedestrian with perhaps the film’s most interesting facet being the horror potential in other childhood games. I know I’d watch a Satanic version of Blind Man’s Bluff or Musical Chairs though arguably It Follows is already just an evil version of Spin The Bottle.

Undemanding and diverting, Truth Or Dare is an entertaining waste of 100 minutes.

Movie Review: Truth Or Dare
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