Eight college friends head to a “Haunted Rental” for Halloween. But when they replay the game that made the house infamous, they awaken an evil spirit intent on stealing their souls.
SyFy Network is well known for their films. I think the word most people use would be “infamous”. Bad writing, cheesy special effects, bad acting from nobodies and/or stars whose lights have long since burned out. These made-for-cable dingleberries have developed their own cult following that is almost as rabid as Troma, but nowhere near as disgusting. (I love Troma, but I’m not a raving fan. I also like ICP, but I’m not a Juggalo.)
“Truth or Dare” is another film made for the network. A group of friends are brought to a house in which a game of Truth or Dare went tragically wrong back in 1983. You can write the rest of the synopsis yourself, I’m sure.
Right off the bat, we have the pre-credit sequence set in 1983. It’s supposed to set the tone and present the stakes involved in whatever horrible and spooky crap is going on. You get a plastic bucket being pulled across a wooden floor, but the sound effect is clearly that of a metal bucket. Not even 5 minutes into the film, and the credibility is shot in the foot. Before you ask, no, it isn’t done tongue-in-cheek like “Airplane!”. Still, it had me laughing.
Next required segment: Meet the victims. Why list them? You’ve seen them all before. All are pretty people, except the token chunky character, and they have their own awesomely cool personalities. Unfortunately, their personalities are less likeable than a case of inflamed Type 2 Herpes, so you don’t have to worry about having any attachments when the predictable mayhem begins.
The creepy dude who organized the gathering explains about the night back in 1983 and how all of the kids died except one, and no one ever heard of her again. Yet, oddly enough, another character spends a few minutes online and finds the survivor’s name and current address later in the film. Damn those interwebs and their lack of respect for privacy when exposition and padding is needed. Anyway, the cliched “bad stuff” starts happening.
Soon our brilliant cast of characters realize that maybe that old urban legend was true. I think that was around the time one of the girls had to eat some palm bacon off of a stove coil. You’ll know what that means if you watch this. If you don’t watch it, you really don’t care, so move along.
I kid you not when I say that the instant the characters realize they are in real trouble, every single one of them scatters to find their own way out. I could almost hear Cartman saying, “Screw you guys. I’m going home.” So much for friendship. Told you these people were jerks.
One of them ends up dying in a fairly bloody way. Still, the cops spend an hour or so and decide to write the whole thing off as an accident, and everyone is free to go. Really? A dead body, and it gets a wave of the hand. Oh, right, this is a SyFy movie. Different logic parameters.
After another couple of deaths (how are these people not handcuffed in the sheriff’s office is beyond me), the internet rats out the survivor of the 1983 massacre. Do we find out anything worthwhile or helpful? Nope. It’s just a repeat of “You started this, and now you have to finish it. Oh yeah, and you’re all pretty much screwed.” The only highlight here is that the survivor, as an adult, is played by Heather Langenkamp. I’ve had a crush on her since I first saw “A Nightmare on Elm Street”.
The cast ends up back at the house. Not because the house is really the source of the curse because the sinister activities continue once they are away from the house, so they go back to the house because…budget, would be my guess. That, and if everyone is in the house together, it is easier to explain the silliness that is the film’s premise.
If there is any real creativity in this film, it might be in the movies ripped off by “Truth or Dare (2017)”. You get bits of the “Final Destination” series with variations on the “Saw” franchise wrapped up with tropes/clichés from haunted house flicks. These different elements are not blended together into a smooth confection; you get mental whiplash as the story shifts in tone.
The last third of the film becomes increasingly more bloody and gruesome in what I can only assume is an attempt to distract you from the plain silliness of everything happening. Credit to the nicely icky and painful looking effects of self-mutilation the film presents, even if they look like they should be in a better film.
Then we have the ending. Nope, I’m not going to give it away, but it sadly leaves the door open for a sequel. I guess they want something to replace the Sharknado series which seems to be winding down. If we get sequels to “Truth or Dare”, SyFy is really hurting for an in-house film franchise.
I will give the film credit for being a bit darker and bloodier than a lot of the stuff you normally see made for SyFy. Next time, try pairing quality and intelligence with dark and bloody and you might have a movie that I won’t laugh at while wishing I was watching something better.