After teen misfit Felix (Tom Kane) is humiliated and tormented at a house party he extends a welcome to his perpetrators to his birthday party to demonstrate there are no hard feelings. Once the weekend warriors arrive to his family’s secluded estate they realize perhaps there were ulterior motives at play. Will his peers have opportunity to express genuine remorse and embrace their ultimate truth or dare?
Directed By: Robert Heath
Starring: Liam Boyle, Jack Gordon, Florence Hall, Jennie Jacques, Tom Kane, Jason Maza, David Oakes
Every now and again a film is released that makes one proud to be a horror fan again. This British export is so psychologically taut our North American counterparts could take notes on effective terror 101.
We can all dig a good old fashioned revenge story am I right? Director Robert Heath’s execution of this multi-layered fear feast surprisingly has a few twists and turns the average fan won’t see coming. While avoiding the venture into plot spoilers the cinematography is noteworthy illustrating a number of subtleties and nuances to enhance the overall mood. An eerie, hazy look is depicted as Felix is being tormented. We feel his emotional angst with tremendous unease.
Some breathe taking wide angle shots are provided leading up to his redemption birthday party located in the remote forest of his family’s estate. We cringe with the building tension as the weekend warriors arrive on the edge of our seats awaiting their ultimate fate.
Some brilliant acting is showcased which clearly can make or break any film not to mention a horror picture. Each character is just as convincing as the next yet we as the audience cannot help but get Eleanor’s character played by Jennie Jacques under our skin. We actually find ourselves cheering for the vigilante to enforce his demented brand of redemption and revenge then something very interesting transpires we begin to sympathize with the antagonists as they become vulnerable and susceptible to varying types of torture. The innovation put into the kill scenes is impressive. Any horror aficionado may be desensitized to kill scenes but trust me this isn’t something anyone has been privy to.
Panoramic type shots are taken of the tormentors turned victims while the forced game of Truth or Dare is revisited. The emotions run high while each awaits their ultimate fate while trying to remain loyal and remain rational towards a way of escape. The cabin creates an effective light and darkness contrast that creeps upon our last nerves. It’s psychological story telling at its best and we cannot wait to see what happens next.
In the final act of the picture the story revisits the beginning to add a little twist and enlightenment on how the plot developed in this phase. The execution is something even Alfred Hitchcock would be proud of and any self-respecting chiller fan can appreciate the turn of events.
The special effects and make up is spot on and is not at all over indulgent. Although there was a reported two million pound budget I admire the resistance to get into a whole lot of blood and gore. Throughout the torture scenes we are delightfully appalled but what transpires as the gruesome illustration is saved for when it’s needed most. The director has a brilliant sense of emotion and timing and feeds upon the psyche of the audience. Few directors I feel truly get this, especially in contemporary releases. I look forward to seeing more of Robert Heath’s endeavors and that is the truth. Question is, will you dare?
-Four out of five tombstones
Truth or Die (2012)