“Truth or Dare” — oh, sorry, I mean “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” — is the kind of movie that asks a lot of questions. That isn’t to say it has anything on its mind; in fact, it’s hard to think of more than a handful of movies released in the last couple years with such a gaping black hole in which their plot, character development and themes should be. No, “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” asks questions more along the lines of, why would any successful production company pick a movie this obviously wrongheaded on which to build their brand when last year alone they released movies like “Split” and “Get Out”? Who was the genius who decided to base a horror movie around a game played exclusively by middle school students and pornstars about to shoot an orgy scene? Who would then read that script and think to themselves, yes, this is a movie I want to appear on my IMDb until the heat death of the universe?
But beyond these more complex ponderances, the question most strongly asked by “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” is one asked by many of the new staples of the “bad horror movie” genre, like “Friend Request,” or “Bye-Bye Man’s” or “Emoji Movie”: Why make a good movie that actually says something and has meaning when you can handcraft a pile of self-serious nonsense, tag on a dark ending and pretend that because it’s down with the kids and bleak it means it has anything on its mind beyond the next kill?
From beginning to end, “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” is clearly guided by this notion, that because it’s dark and takes itself so seriously that “Batman v. Superman” looks cheerful by comparison, it will distract from the fact that it is crammed full of everything wrong with this kind of horror movie. The characters aren’t just poorly written, they’re given just enough personality to make us want to see them die horribly. One is a stalker who, within seconds of his introduction, has harassed the main character and suggested a threesome with her best friend. One is a medical student who writes fake prescriptions. One is an alcoholic who drinks two bottles of vodka in one scene yet walks around without a hint of a hangover after. These people are so loathsome from top to bottom that it’s genuinely surprising when no one turns out to be a member of the “alt-right.”
Slasher flicks oftentimes rely on this sort of thing, though. The idea is that if we want to see the characters die horribly, and then they do die horribly, we’ll like the movie more. These movies often aren’t hamstrung by a PG-13 rating that necessitates cutting away right before the action gets “good.” Is it scary outside the violence? What do you think? My friend described the appearance of the demon, which manifests itself in characters smiling like they’re hopped up on nitrous as “a bad Instagram filter.” I disagree. Instagram filters know that they’re distorting people to the point of silliness and stupidity. “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” thinks it’s scary, so it’s more like a thirteen-year-old edgelord who just discovered photoshop and is trying to make a spooky Facebook profile picture.
The year is still young, but Blumhouse’s latest is already making a case for itself as the worst horror movie of 2018 and one of the worst movies, period. The scares are laughable. The script is the worst kind of lazy. The acting is amateurish. I’m reasonably sure one of the main stars’ names is spelled wrong in the closing credits. An unforgiveable amount of time is spent on relationship drama and a love triangle that makes “Twilight” look like “Casablanca.” The characters only grow more and more unlikeable as the runtime wears on, and by the time the credits finally, mercifully roll, it’s hard to even say what “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” was even about anyway beyond pretty people dying stupidly.