I know I’ve said this before, but good God almighty, we really are just making movies about literally whatever now, aren’t we? We are truly scraping the bottom of the barrel if this is the best we can do. And how does Jason Blum — clearly a smart guy — get roped into making Truth or Dare with Jeff Wadlow? His Kick-Ass 2 is among the most embarrassing films of the past decade, and he should have retired from filmmaking after the release of True Memoirs of an International Assassin. But Blumhouse comes to this guy with open arms to direct this dumb Truth or Dare movie? It’s almost as if it’s impossible to get kicked out of Hollywood or something.
Beyond being a transparent retread of old Final Destination and Flatliners territory, the film’s biggest problem is that its fundamental lack of faith in its own story only becomes more and more obvious as the movie goes on. It also borrows all the wrong elements from another influence, It Follows, namely the device of having the characters constantly explain the ever-more-convoluted plot to each other as we in the audience have to ask how anyone knows any of this information or how they could have possibly come across it in the first place. Establishing goofy ground rules for your supernatural horror film is fine. Adding needless complexity to the whole thing when you realize you’ve painted yourself into about six different narrative corners is just ridiculous.
Initially, the one thing the film seems to have going for it is a total lack of self-consciousness about being a PG-13 horror movie. The plot moves forward pretty steadily with the “Now we’re doing this” template of storytelling, in which the characters simply announce where we are in the story to set up the next creepy but bloodless set piece. Eventually, this gets out of control, though, before the film starts resembling a Rubik’s cube of stray narrative elements all just more or less dangling, disconnected to anything else, with entire characters forgotten about for long stretches before they’re brought back just in time to be killed by the … whatever. Demon? Is there a demon haunting these kids? Was it haunting the game itself? It was surprisingly hard to keep up.
But I really do wonder what’s going on in Jason Blum’s head right now. Buddy, you made Get Out! You made Happy Death Day! You produced the biggest and weirdest horror franchises of this century so far. You’re halfway through post-production on the new Spike Lee/Jordan Peele team-up movie! You don’t have to keep making this garbage. We all believe in you. We trust you. Even if you keep making those Creep movies that I didn’t really understand but that I liked well enough. You’ve earned everyone’s respect. You’re better than this. Don’t keep enabling Jeff Wadlow, either. Let him go. He’s going to keep making Kevin James action comedies (huh?) with or without you. He’s holding you back. Cut him loose now, and we’ll all forget this whole Truth or Dare thing ever happened. Rated PG-13 for violence and disturbing content, alcohol abuse, some sexuality, language and thematic material. Now playing at AMC River Hills Classic 10, Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande.