Truth or Dare (2013)
-Review by Nic Brown-
What does it mean to be a celebrity today? Do you have to be a professional athlete, a rock star, or a movie star? With the internet and the rise of online videos, that isn’t necessarily the case. Now through services like AppleTV, Roku, ChromeCast, and other devices, viewers can access web-based video content on their televisions as readily as on their smart phones, computers or tablets. This expands the reach of those videos into the traditional world held by television and film. So when a video goes viral, it is possible for millions of viewers to see it any time and instant celebrity status can come overnight. But at what cost? First-time director Jessica Cameron’s film “Truth or Dare” looks at ‘celebrity’ in the new millennium and explores what can happen when that kind of fame attracts the wrong kind of attention.
The film follows a group of college friends who decide to seek fame and fortune by playing an old game, truth or dare, and posting video of their games online. They add a deadly twist by simulating the death of one of their ‘Truth or Daredevils’ in what proves to be their most successful video. They keep the fact that the ‘death’ was faked a secret for as long as possible, building a huge following and rocketing them into the spotlight. While appearing on a television talk show to discuss their videos the team reveals the hoax. Though most of the audience is surprised that they were fooled, one fan, Derik (Ryan Kiser), takes the news rather hard. He begins berating the team for ignoring his emails and betraying the purity of truth or dare with the faked death. He’s kicked out of the studio and the team thinks little more of it.
They gather in the remote home of one of the team and prepare to film a new round of videos that they hope will be even more shocking and popular. But things take a horrific turn when Derik arrives and changes the rules. He makes the games for real, at the point of a gun. The dares are now sadistic torture and choosing truth is no safe bet either as Derik knows all of the team’s darkest secrets. When they lie they suffer. The truth quickly turns these friends against each other in surprising ways. As the game progresses, the ratings soar from the posts, the games become deadlier and the question becomes will anyone survive Derik’s insane game?
“Truth or Dare” is a hard movie to watch. I don’t say that because it is not well made; Jessica Cameron shows that she knows what she’s doing in front of and behind the camera. The film is disturbing in the territory it ventures into. It seems no subject is taboo for the questions and the dares would at times make Eli Roth do a double take. Looking past the violence and often even more unsettling plot developments, the film is well made and entertaining. The characters of Derik and Jennifer (Cameron) are the ones that have the truest development. Kiser brings Derik’s insanity to life in a disturbingly believable way and he deserves kudos for being able to maintain that kind of intense performance through the 80% of the film that involves him. Cameron’s character comes across as the most sympathetic of the team. As the game progresses she becomes the only one who seems to have any chance with Derik and his game. Aside from the over the top violence and sadism of the game, the film does have other flaws, not the least of which was the repeatedly overlooked opportunities for the hostages to try and escape. It seems as the dares become more disturbing, dangerous and violent, that more of them would take a chance to try and disarm or kill Derik
Overall, “Truth or Dare” will be one that fans of the “Saw” and “Hostile” style horror films will enjoy and those who do not have the constitution for such things will want to avoid. So if you are ready to be shocked and don’t mind the torture and gore, check out director Jessica Cameron’s “Truth or Dare” but remember, once you start the game, you may not be able to stop.