TRUTH OR DARE

6 out of 10 – 

Release Date: 6th August 2012 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Robert Heath

Cast: David Oakes, Jennie Jaques, Jack Gordon, Florence Hall, Liam Boyle, Alexander Vlahos, Tom Kane, David Sterne with Nicky Henson and Jason Maza

Writer: Matthew McGughan

Trailer: TRUTH OR DARE

Truth-Or-Dare-Poster-300x226Above average yet stage bound Truth or Dare will not be remembered for it’s originality. If it gets remembered at all it will be remembered for being straight-forward and entertaining. Your regulation group of university friends (who can barely tolerate each other) are found enroute to a party at their posh classmate Felix’s (TOM KANE – NOW IS GOOD) stately home. On arrival they are met by his charismatic brother, Justin (DAVID OAKES – THE BORGIAS) who takes them to a hut where party food has been laid out.  Next thing the five friends awaken to find themselves tied to chairs and Justin is their captor. Why is this happening to them and are they at fault? Has Justin taken his revenge a little bit too far, or have the five friends actually earned their fate?

Cast at the time with ‘the next-big things’ of the day, most of them don’t seem to have capitalised on their talents since, Truth or Dare benefits for it’s eager actors. It twists and turns predictably as the power shifts from captors to victims and back again. The plot turns are fairly well sign-posted and the deaths / punishments unflinching in their execution. The whole film is a little too disposable to be memorable but it stands a long way ahead of the many other ‘teens-in-peril’ movies that litter the Britpic library. David Oakes is a standout and Jennie Jacques (CHERRY TREE LANE), as the smartest of the victims, should’ve broken out into the mainstream by now.  Jason Maza (DEMONS NEVER DIE), now an elder statesman of low-budget filmmaking in the UK turns up in one of his most lightweight roles to date as victim number one.

Half a dozen thrillers like this come out on the market every month and the makers have to come up with a better set of tricks each time. What a lot of the scriptwriters forget to do is make any of the heroe’s sympathetic. It’s key to make us care about least one of the characters. In Truth or Dare, the main five are quite horribel people but when it becomes apparent that this is a game of natural selection it gets a second wind that pushes it past most of it’s competitors like 13Hrs, Demons Never Die, Hollow, Splintered, Basement and about twenty or so others on this very blog.

6 out of 10 – It’s a great time-passer but don’t expect to remember much about it the day afterwards.

REVIEW by Joe Pesci II below

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “TRUTH OR DARE

  1. Children can be cruel. (Just watch WAKE WOOD.) And so can the hideous (mostly rich) cretins who people this film. They’re just out of university (or in between terms or some such) and are probably the kind of people who will grow up to become Tory ministers. Fortunately quite a few of them don’t get to grow up because they’re in a teen-horror movie! Yay! Death stalks them at every turn, and all that, and past sins catching up with them, and I’m sure you know the form.
    The big problem is that they’re all pretty obnoxious so you can’t really sympathise with their plight. We see Alexander Vlahos as a hard-working drug dealer (honestly, he gets a speech about having to work hard while the rich play). We know he’s a drug dealer because he’s got really weird hair which looks like an ice-cream (a bit like a junior Douglas Hurd, not that I’m suggesting that the distinguished former Foreign Secretary was ever a drug dealer; maybe a gun-runner perhaps in his official capacity – I’d better stop there, sorry Doug, if you’re reading this; actually I’d have voted for you in the 1990 leadership election if I’d been an eligible Tory MP). He seems to be friends with Jack Gordon as Chris, a not-posh oik (we know he’s an oik because he’s an oik and not posh because oiks are by definition not posh). His girlfriend (in the first scene at least)is played by posh but nice Florence Hall (we know she’s nice because she dumps her oikish boyfriend for being nasty, and that she’s posh because she looks like she’s from the 1920s). This leaves Liam Boyle as the insensitive and boring one (we know he’s insensitive because he thinks about himself before his girlfriend, and that he’s boring because I can remember almost nothing about him other than the pain which is inflicted upon him) and scream queen Jennie Jacques as the posh slapper (we know she’s a posh slapper because she wears a posh dress but looks like a slapper). Knowing these people would surely be like being surrounded by adolescent David Camerons and George Osbornes.
    Fortunately that means we can sympathise with the psychotic loon who wants to kill them all (I’m not sure if that’s a good thing now I see it written down, but hey-ho, it’s only a movie). So, some posh-nerd boy, played with perfect nervousness by Tom Kane, (we know he’s a posh-nerd by the way he dresses at a party; this is a quite brilliant bit of cinematic shorthand / insulting reduction of character to caricature (delete as applicable) and he’s called Felix)who is humiliated by the five cool kids, then kills himself shortly before his army brother returns from Afghanistan. (Shed no tears, he’d probably turn into barmy Michael Gove.)
    So, after a prologue depicting a drug-fuelled party with a humiliating game of truth or dare we meet our heroes again a few months later as they make their way to Felix’s stately pile for another party (which, unbeknownst to them will involve more truth or dare, humiliation, dismemberment, death and the imbibing of toxic liquids).
    This party is hosted by Felix’s posh but tough brother played by the rather gloriously unhinged yet simultaneously hinged David Oakes (we know he’s posh but tough because of the way he goes around slaughtering everybody but still seems terribly polite about it.) As he tries to get to the bottom of Felix’s suicide he forces our heroes into a deadly game of truth or dare. I was rather worried that this would (a) dominate the rest of the film and (b) be worth it (OK, the film’s called TRUTH OR DARE, I suppose that was a clue, but still, a legitimate worry). Fortunately, it is all made worth our while thanks to battery fluid and dark secrets.
    There are a few twists along the way, some obvious, some less so, and it’s all done with a glossy sheen unusual for a British film of this sort. It is reminiscent of DEMONS NEVER DIE (not least due to having two of its actors) but is infinitely better. It’s nicely plotted, well paced for the most part, not entirely convincing, but convincing enough if you’re in the right frame of mind. Mind you, they’ve set it in a shack in the woods whilst there’s a perfectly good stately home nearby which puts in a bit of an appearance; that might have made a more interesting location, but I’m quibbling. There are niggles: the Douglas Hurd hair got very distracting at supposedly tense moments, and I’m not sure that the Stockholm syndrome subplot stuff worked. And just what do you have to do to get an 18 certificate these days?
    Amongst the cast, everyone is reasonably efficient, breathing some life into the cardboard constructs of their characters. Particularly memorable though are Jennie Jacques as a kind of future Alexis Carrington, and the comically grotesque Jack Gordon. (And there’s good support from Jason Maza as a nutter (we know he’s a nutter because he’s played by Jason Maza). But above all is David Oakes as the bitter loon intent on finding the truth (or is he?), who I hope is this good in other stuff. He’s just the most reasonable murderer I’ve encountered (in movie-land) in a long time (clarification – I’ve not – to my knowledge – met any murderers in real life) (in case you thought I was about to make comparisons from experience) (nor am I a murderer either). Even when he’s in the midst of snapping a neck or administering corrosive poison I found it difficult to be anything more censorious than thinking ‘I think you’re going slightly beyond the bounds of propriety there, pal’ (as opposed to ‘he’s a blithering maniac, the sooner those plucky kids pit their wits together and defeat him the better’).
    This is a very fake, plastic film. The characters are from stock, the plot motors along on autopilot, there is no atmosphere to speak of, and the mysteries, such as they are, are not particularly interesting. But here at least, these are good qualities. The film is a compact product, easily digestible (and easily disposable), fun to watch, with the occasional bit of squirm thrown in, but one that you can ultimately watch, say ‘that was good’ then get on with your life and be troubled no more by it (unless you have to write a review of it). It’s a ready-meal (without horses, you need to watch WAKE WOOD if you want them). It’s not really a frightening film as such, just a bit grisly and with some entertainingly twisted moral (or immoral) points of view, and some even more entertainingly twisted deaths. It’s a glossy entertainment, blood spurting prettily from pretty people who are just vile enough for us to want to see blood spurting prettily from them. Then again maybe it’s a deeply political work about the rich eating themselves and will be seen to be a major factor in the consciousness of the people if ever they decide to rise up and overthrow anybody. But that’s unlikely. To sum up: rich people prettily get splattered.

    6 out of 10 – Joe Pesci II

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