How did Winchester offer to scare but vanish without trace?

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On paper Winchester appears to be a delectable proposition for any filmmaker to undertake.
Filled with mystery and intrigue, the infamous Winchester Mystery House is amped with so much ammunition to fire up the fantastical and ghoulish experiences that have allegedly occurred in this historical location and transport to the screen in order to scare the masses.
The tricky part though is in its delivery. Ghost stories have been a difficult medium these days to project on the big screen, unless your name happens to be James Wan or with the possible exception of The Woman In Black starring Daniel Radcliffe, both managing to make empty spaces and the dark fill with fear and dread.
Interestingly, Winchester was first acquired by Hammer films, (the production team behind The Woman In Black), but somewhere along the way it changed hands to CBS Films.

To strengthen the appeal of the film came with the casting of Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester, who found became incredibly wealthy after the death of her husband with a 50% holding of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.
Along with this vast fortune though, she became convinced that she and her family were cursed and churn that money into the house by building numerous rooms with doors and stairways leading to nowhere in order to trap and confuse the spirits that found their way into her home.

So, where did the film go wrong?
The problem arises through the films narrative. There’s no story here besides what is printed in the history books and unfortunately it seems that the script writers lacked the imagination to weave any creativity into the real world to create anything presentable to fashion a twinkle of a scare, let alone grip you to the edge of your seat.
Instead we’re presented with a hodge-podge of convoluted storylines that line-up with the individual characters but (much like the great house itself), when combined there is a misconnection and feels tacked on with no rhyme or reason.

The actors do there level best with what they have, Mirren at least looks like she’s having fun in her role, and Australian Jason Clarke manifests as much acting muscle that he can muster with his tortured Dr Eric Price, fighting with a past that haunts him. In doing so, Clarke continues to skirt along the periphery of the film scene waiting for his big break to come.
For the rest of the cast are grossly under-utilised, especially actors Bruce Spence and Angus Sampson (Insidious film series), but none more so than Sarah Snook (The Secret River, Black Mirror) who as far as this writer is concerned deserves greater recognition than she is currently receiving.

Ultimately, the filmmakers try to wrangle every trick in the book that ghost stories of yester-year proved successful.
There’s the haunted house, the possessed child, the medium, and the hero with a problematic past.
The end result, just leads the viewer in the garden house without a plot to string everything together.
The Spierig Brothers have offered so much promise since their directorial debut Undead, and their follow up, Daybreakers, but have since slid into a state of nothingness with the latest Saw instalment Jigsaw and Winchester proving to be mediocre affair. Where they go from here is anyone’s guess.

 

The Diagnosis:
The Spierig Brothers offer too much substance and no collective thoughts in this mis-mangled construction of a movie, that wastes the talent of actors that are on display. It’s a shame, as it could have been so much more, but ends up being more of a whisper than a full-blown apparition of epic proportions.

– Saul Muerte

Movie review: Unsane

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Steven Soderbergh’s bold venture into the horror scene would display his usual flair for the experimental by shooting the entire thing on an iPhone and utilising the sublime acting ability of Claire Foy, who seems to be on a massive trajectory right now following The Crown. Keep an eye out for The Girl in the Spider’s Web and First Man, both due out later in the year.

Foy certainly owns this movie too, eking out every ounce of her physical and mental prowess to deliver a cracking turn as an incredibly unhinged Sawyer Valentini. Her intrinsic mannerisms have you questioning her actions from the outset as she appears quite reserved and a little rude with one of her colleagues, to then venture outside the office building to talk with her mother, fabricating every detail of her day in order to appease, before venturing back inside. This leaves you wondering who is Sawyer Valentini?
The plotline takes a significant left turn however when Sawyer is committed into a mental institute for 24 hours after she visits a counselor and unwittingly signs a consent form volunteering her to do so.

Once inside, she tries to pull all the stops to be released but has a violent encounter with a fellow patient, Violet (a magnificent Juno Temple) and she has to resort to calling her mum (Amy Irving – Carrie, The Fury) to try and bail her out.

The convoluted narration has a few more twists up its sleeve though as we discover one of the doctors happens to be her stalker that she has been trying to run away from. The stalker in question is played by Joshua Leonard (Blair Witch Project) lends weight to the strength of the casting in this film as he excels as the main antagonist, David.

There’s even a superb cameo from Matt Damon as Detective Ferguson, who advises Sawyer on how to stay protected from her stalker.

The twists and turns that Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer provide with their screenplay is both Unsane’s genius and its Achilles heel as the viewer is dragged along Sawyer’s descent into hell through a crazed labyrinth before a climax that questions all that has unfolded.

 

The Diagnosis:

People will either love or hate this film, there’s no in-between. It took me a little while to register my feelings towards Unsane as I was mesmerized by Foy’s performance on screen, proving she is a force to be reckoned with. And yet, the storyline can leave you a little baffled and unsure of how it makes you feel by the time the end credits roll.

Movie review: Pyewacket

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For a while there, it felt like you couldn’t watch a horror flick without stumbling across a shuffling animated corpse or a creature of the night as everything from vampires and zombies was thrust at us. And while there has been a significant shift in the genre with films like Get Out, Raw, Don’t Breathe, and the recent A Quiet Place have proven to offer new light in the dark world we love so much, there has also been a growing development in stories around the Occult.

Stemming from The Witch and Netflix’s The Ritual, folk horror is definitely on the rise and with the impact that Hereditary has had on the cinema audience, you can sure as hell expect that this will spell the beginning of delving into the dark arts in film once again.

Which is why I felt it a good time to resurrect a discussion around a movie that was doing the rounds at festival circuits last year called Pyewacket.
This sophomore outing from director Adam MacDonald following his debut feature Backcountry, stars Laurie Holden (The Walking Dead, The Americans) and Nicole Muñoz who play out a fractured mother/daughter relationship.

Holden strikes a formidable force on-screen as the over-bearing mother, who is barely keeping it together following the death of her husband and trying to support her only daughter, Leah.
Whilst she is pained by how much Leah looks like her husband, the manner in which she expresses this to her daughter is beyond cruel and makes it hard to warm to her.
And yet Holden can flip the switch and show compassion and caring that makes you question how you could have felt so ill towards her. It’s a terrific performance and amplifies how much she should be in more movies.

Muñoz more than holds her own against Holden as she is forced to move away from all that she knows, in a wooded terrain in the back of beyond.
When her mother poses the notion of moving schools, thus segregating her further from all that she knows, Leah delves into her passion for the occult as a way to self-regulate her emotions in all the wrong ways.
We empathise with her plight despite her drastic methods to evoke a witch in order to kill her mother in a fit of rage, anger and turmoil.
Once the wheels are in motion and the spirit is on its destructive path, the tension mounts as Leah struggles to take back her actions and stop the creature at all costs.

The Diagnosis:
This movie deserves more recognition than it has received thus far. Not only does it tackle what could easily be remised for teenage angst, Pyewacket offers powerful performances in a slow-burn drama that s believable and tension-packed to its conclusion.

  • Saul Muerte

Short movie review: Liz Drives

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Liz Drives: trailer from Mia’kate Russell on Vimeo.

 

Making a serious impact on the festival circuit over the past year, Liz Drives manages to raise some serious questions within its 8 ½ minute timeframe.
Director Mia ‘Kate Russell states ”Thematically the film is pretty loaded. Family, race, guilt. I tried to squeeze a lot in those eight minutes” and whilst that may seem like an awful lot to register and could very well consume most professional directors, Russell manages to allow the story to flow without feeling constrained by these strong subjects presented within, which was inspired by her father’s death and the last moment that she saw him alive.

Liz Drives is a female story focusing on two estranged sisters, Liz (Sophia Davey) and Elle (Cassandra Magrath – Wolf Creek), as they go to visit their mother.
As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that Liz feels part of that estrangement has come from how their mother views the two of them and favours Elle more.

Both leads are exceptional in this short feature providing compelling depth to their characters that is a testament to their strength on screen and their ability to harness from an incredibly powerful script.

The Diagnosis:

Liz Drives takes the audience on a journey that questions preconceptions, misconceptions, and asks what we would do if we were faced with a dilemma that challenges our natural behavioural instincts.
Mia ‘Kate Russell has entered the celluloid world, offering a unique voice that should cement a place for her in the industry. Remember her name.

 – Saul Muerte

Movie review: Hereditary

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Being dubbed “The scariest movie in years” was always going to be a tough statement to stand by. The bar has already been set pretty high in the horror scene and if, like me, you live and breathe the genre, then you’re going to want them to stand by such bold convictions.

So, with the gauntlet thrust down, I stared down the barrel of torment, chest exposed, ready to receive the thrills that I had so been longing to receive in the class that I’ve come to love so dearly.

Whilst Hereditary didn’t tweak the amygdala to produce deep and charting scares, it did throw me into a river of disturbance and terror that was positively haunting.

One might find the pace of the film a little slow but the current is a steady one, offering enough pain and suffering to propel you on the perilous journey that the family face, which has a lot to do with the stellar performances on show.

Toni Collette is a huge standout and somehow oozes every ounce of crazed anarchy, agony, and deterioration as she struggles to come to face up to the impact that her mother’s death has had on her and her family.

Director Ari Aster in his directorial feature debut carves our an intricate and detailed portrait of grief and the extent one goes to in order to reconcile with those feelings that takes you places you may not ordinarily be willing to go to, and plays with the vulnerablity that you may encounter with each action you take leading to drastic consequences.

Supporting Toni in her delivery of Annie Graham is Gabriel Byrne as her husband Steve, who has the tough job of bringing a delighting with enough subtly, so that he can allow other key players to shine, namely the two children Charlie (Milly Shapiro who draws out an incredibly haunting character) and Steve (Alex Wolff who also deserves the accolades for his character arc).

Hereditary has been likened to the old school horror movies that were being produced in the 70’s such as The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby and whilst it does appear that we’re about to go through a reawakening of this era (especially if the new Suspiria trailer is anything to go by), I struggle to find this movie matching the chilling feeling that you got from watching those movies from that time.

Instead we’re faced with an incredibly detailed and evocative feature that takes the audience on a trouble and unsettling journey.

The Diagnosis:
Hardcore horror fans will be left wanting, but those who like to have the brain stimulated by smart and disturbing terror can expect a movie to resonate and tingle the senses.

 
– Saul Muerte

Movie review: The Midnight Man (2018)

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Having Lin Shaye and Robert Englund in the same movie can only be a good thing… to a degree.
Whilst the film is greatly improved by their involvement thanks to their acting prowess and years of experience.
You’d forgive them if they just phoned in their performances but they give it there all, which is a much-needed blessing to churn the film along.
The problem arises in the leads, who struggle to bring the admittedly ropey dialogue to life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen worse performances on screen but it did feel like pulling teeth on more than one occasion.

From the start, The Midnight Man ticks the usual horror tropes with a trio of kids in a haunted house set up and protecting themselves within a chalk circle from an unknown entity that wants to pick them off one by one.
Fast forward to present day to find the sole survivor now and elderly woman (Shaye) who’s granddaughter, Alex (Gabrielle Haugh) and her friend Miles (Grayson Gabriel), pay her a visit, only to discover a game in the attic that summons the titular creature.

So far, so same same. And that’s the problem with this movie. It has so many options to create something new by playing with a fairly decent urban myth.
I mean, the very concept of a creature who can sense your innermost fear (think a darker version could of Red Dwarf’s Polymorph) and to turn that fear against you has so much fodder.
Instead we’re presented with lazy writing and wooden performances producing poor choices from the characters, which ultimately leads the audience to care little about what becomes of them.
Especially when a third party comes into the equation, only for them to become an easy victim.

The Diagnosis:
The Midnight Man could have and should have been so much more than it delivers. Instead we’re treated to a mediocre fare and wondering what Englund’s Freddy would have made of the pretender to the boogeyman throne.

  • Saul Muerte

 

Movie review – Thoroughbreds

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Cory Finley’s directorial debut has been likened to Heathers and American Psycho, which felt like a long reach for me.
The trailer plays with a vibrant, youthful pulse that would lend weight to this likeness, but that’s purely down to marketing and editing of said piece.
The crux of the film rests solely on the lead female characters as the driving force; both offer deep layers of complexity, which as they unravel provide more than meets the eye. The rub though is in their vacuous demeanour, which finds them hard to warm to, especially as we originally journey through the eyes of Amanda (Olivia Cooke – who seriously must be questioning her film choices at this stage, The Quiet Ones, Ouija, The Limehouse Golem) who is revealed to have an unspecified mental disorder where she is devoid of any emotion.
Whilst Cooke plays this with a decent level of macabre and melancholic humour, it leaves you struggling to know who to connect to.
In some sense, you could argue that this attachment comes with Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy – who keeps churning out captivating performances in her work) but her elitist view on the world and lifestyle embedded in high society can alienate you from her motives and place them purely as petty and spoilt.
Whilst the late Anton Yelchin injects an interesting balance as drug dealing dropout, Tim, balanced in juxtaposition to coldness, and yet strangely pleasurable to see the women gain the upper hand in the triangle relationship as they plot to murder Lily’s stepfather, Mark (gloriously played by Paul Sparks – House of Cards, Boardwalk Empire).

Back to Finley who also wrote the screenplay for Thoroughbreds and for his first feature cuts together a decent enough plotline to keep you interested and definitely with enough twists and turns in the narrative to keep you intrigued.
In some cases, there is a sense of superiority in the way the dialogue is delivered, venturing on the side of trying too hard to be clever, which can feel a bit verbose and alienate its audience.

The Diagnosis:
It’s a fine first effort from Finley, which relies on the strength of the two leads to pull a fairly weighty script into what feels a long 90min running time.
Thankfully there is enough intrigue and playfulness in the script to pepper the audience along to its conclusion, but this is not groundbreaking, nor will it win the hearts of hard-core horror enthusiasts.

– Saul Muerte

The Tremors franchise

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Tremors (aka The Original)

It’s been close to 30 years now since those giant worm-like creatures first wreaked havoc on a remote town in Nevada called Perfection.
It was one of those lightning in a bottle movies that had the right blend of character chemistry coupled with a unique threat that trod that fine-line between b-movie horror and mainstream fodder.
Isolating the threat to one location, helped to contain the fear and tension on-screen whilst keeping the dialogue light and feel-good with central characters the viewer could identify with. Namely Kevin Bacon’s Valentine McKee and Fred Ward’s Earl Bassett as they try to out-alpha each other, usually through rock, paper, scissors.
In fact, there’s a good balance of support players involved here which add to the overall quality of the film, starting with love interest, Rhonda (who also happens to be a seismologist), to gun wielding Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) and his wife Heather (Reba McEntire) who cone packed with heavy artillery to blow these Graboids to kingdom come.
Added to the mix is the whole Graboids get smarter act, which isn’t a new concept but in this instance it forces our heroes to keep one step ahead of the underground threat and thinking on their toes about different ways to survive and ultimately defeat them.
This is a testament and smarts of screenwriter S.S. Wilson, to use the characters guile and prowess to worm their way out of a tricky situation.
It pays to have the right kind of attention paid to the plot line and the characters and lends itself to Tremors being the cult favourite that it is today. It is also why there have been a further 5 films to date, including a series and a coupe of failed pilots.
So let’s unearth the following movies and discuss the trail they have left in the franchise since its early days.

Tremors 2: Aftershocks (aka The one with the Shriekers)

Transport the action to Mexico, a few players returned for this direct-to-video feature from the original. Wilson would switch his writing chair for directing, and for his leads Fred Ward and Burt Gummer. It’s this movie that would cement Gross’ iconic character in the franchise and the reason the creators would seek him to carry the Graboid torch from movie to movie. It’s good choice but potentially overused. More about that later.
Sadly lacking in this feature is some of the chemistry that made the original so strong. The missing ingredient it would appear to be would be Kevin Bacon, who was tied up with shooting a little known feature called Apollo 13.
Whilst they do try and inject some much-needed female identity with Helen Shaver’s (The Amityville Horror) Kate, who feels like she’s crowbarred in as a love interest for Earl.
The weight of this movie’s appeal though hangs in the creatures. Film critics and fans will venture to say that the secret to any decent sequel lies in that it offers the same as its predecessor but with enough of a twist that makes it strong in its own right. Enter the Shriekers, who despite their shrivelled cock-like appearance actually offer a spin on the original by transmorphing into above land creatures, sprouting legs and using heat to guide them instead of sound.
It’s a great concept and this coupled with the Gummer factor, plus a decent turnover in sales gave enough impetus for the producers to release…

Tremors 3: Back to Perfection. (aka The one with the Ass Blasters)

Another direct-to-video release that would see Gummer back on home soil in Perfection along with the survivors of the original movie, chief among them Ariana Richard’s Mindy (a far cry from her breakout gig in Jurassic Park) and Robert Jayne’s Melvin Plug, all grown up and playing a real estate tycoon.
With the need of an action-based sidekick and with no Earl or Valentine in the mix, Gummer would need some new blood in his fight with the Graboids. In step Jack Sawyer played by Shawn Christian, but with all due respect, delivers a paint-by-numbers performance.
Instead, it’s down to the creatures to lift this feature off the ground, which they do so with the hilarious Ass Blasters, who use ignited methane to propel them into the air in order to seek out and attack their prey. This franchise is nothing short of adding another trick to the creatures to develop the danger further and despite its laughable proposition, the circle is complete in the Graboids metamorphosis and you have to applaud the writers’ use of stretching the story as far as it will go. Which leads us to…

Tremors: The Series

Sandwiched between the sextet of Tremors came a TV series set in the town of Perfection and picking up where the third one left off. Once again Burt Gummer strings the residents along against the threat from below the surface Lasting for just one season, after the Sci-Fi Channel pulled the plug. Mainly this came down to poor marketing, as audiences believed that this was to be a replacement to the successful Farscape series. It wasn’t but by then, the damage was already done. Whilst it does look dated today, some of the episodes aren’t too bad despite the odd MacGyver tech wizardry that occurs. Plus it does boast Christopher Lloyd in its cast as a local scientist.

grabbercino

Tremors 4: The Legend Begins (aka The Western or the prequel)

It has to happen at some point in a franchise. Either you cast the whole thing in space, or you go back to its origins and the latter is what happens here for the fourth instalment of the franchise. If anything it serves to carve out some American history and pit Burt Gummer’s ancestor, Hiram against the underground creatures when a silver mine awakens them from their slumber. Michael Gross does offer up an alternative to the gun-totting Burt, showcasing Hiram as a timid and prudish businessman who has never held a gun before. And Billy Drago (The Untouchables) delivers a solid performance as the hired gun Black Hand Kelly called in to rid the town of Graboids
This sequel sees S.S. Wilson back in the director’s chair and even though he tries to capture some of the original charm, it is left wanting and never threatens to break out of its direct-to-video stereotype.
It would be another 11 years before the underground threat would be unearthed again with…

Tremors 5: Bloodlines (aka The one in South Africa)

The movie opens up with Burt Gummer as a star of his own survivalist series in the vein of Bear Grylls, in what promised to be an interesting break to formula. Instead it falls back into the ‘normal’ narrative, except he now has to fly to South Africa, where a new Graboid sighting has been recorded.
Joining him on his escapade is his new cameraman, Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy) who offers up some much-needed humour to the franchise and coincidentally is revealed to be Burt’s son, much to Gummer’s disappointment. Of course, Travis would need to prove himself in the eyes of his father, as they seek out the Queen’s nest to destroy them once and for all.
Some of the movie falls prey to two-dimensional characters, particularly the South African tribal characters, which is a shame because it could have ventured outside the box and offered something original.
Despite this, it’s a watchable movie and moves somewhat back into familiar territory that pleased some of the fan base.
Which brings us to the latest release…

Tremors 6: A Cold Day in Hell (aka The one in the snow…kind of)

Once again, the opening of this movie offered some interesting potential, projecting the Graboids to a remote part of Canada when they attack a trio of scientist in the snow covered mountains. It was refreshing to see this new take on the genre in what could have been delivered as The Graboids Assault on Precinct 13/ Snow Station 13. Instead, we see the characters stuck at a remote station set on rocky terrain and we move away from the opening premise, which was a little disappointing.
We do get to see a new twist into the mix. Back in Tremors 3, Burt was actually swallowed by a Graboid, only to fight his way to freedom. His journey inside the creature though would find him contaminated with Graboid venom that begins to take a death defying effect on his body. What this does is sideline him a little and allow Travis (Jamie Kennedy once again returning) to take centre stage and prove his worth once more. This actually works in favour of the movie and with a nod to the original movie as we’re also introduced to a new character in Valerie McKee. The surname may be a give away to enthusiasts, as she is the daughter of Kevin Bacon’s Valentine. Jamie-Lee Money delivers a solid performance in this role with enough smarts to make her a potential returning character if there does prove to be life beyond this movie.
There is a bit of a love interest moment too between Travis and another new character in Dr Rita Sims, which is borderline ewww herritory, but kinda works too.
It’s still a little formulaic, but surprisingly this latest instalment manages to push the franchise further into a positive direction as a result.
Roll on the new series with the return of Kevin Bacon huh??
But with Syfy pulling the plug on the pilot, it seems the Graboids may need to dig their way into an alternate route if they are to terrorise the screens once more.

– Saul Muerte

Movie review: Deep Blue Sea 2

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Every 90s kid knew the cornerstone of a great sleepover party was a block of chocolate and a scary, but still safely M-rated horror flick.
Hot on Video Ezy’s list of most borrowed were such classics as The Mummy, and The Haunting. But none were as revered, nor as feared, as the iconic Deep Blue Sea.

Naturally, I plunged into the sequel from director Darin Scott eager for some nostalgic terror feels. And I really wish I hadn’t.

Plot is as follows; a pharmaceutical company billionaire with a God complex uses bull sharks to test intelligence enhancing drugs in order to prepare humans for the day robots take over the world.
Cue something going horribly wrong, laboratory flooding, and scientists spending the duration of the film madly paddling away from aforementioned sharks.

Essentially, its the same story as the original, just lamer.

The only drastic change was the addition of a new monster.
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when the writers brainstormed creatures more terrifying than genetically modified killer-sharks.
Their answer; the spawn of genetically modified killer-sharks. Cause nothing sends fear into the hearts of man like a whirlpool of baby sharks.

Weird directorial decisions are as follows; the use of primary-coloured light filters in the flooded hallways so that the audience can tell the difference between the hallways.
A laughably unnecessary scene consisting entirely of the buxom female protagonist undressing.
Cutting to the eyeball of a floating shark peering through a window, casually eavesdropping on the mean conversation happening inside. But now I’m just ruining it.

The Diagnosis:

Look, if you’re a fan of poorly made, straight-to-dvd horror flicks, then you may want to sink your teeth into this one for a bit of a laugh. Just don’t go looking for the huddling-under-the-sleeping bag kind of chills from your childhood. These were eaten by ravenous baby sharks.

– Ellin Williams

Movie review: Truth or Dare

Here’s the interesting thing with horror franchises aimed at teens. They usually have a hook, they’re usually considered low brow garbage by everyone but the teens they’re aimed at, and within a generation they’re awesome (or at least the first film is).

The 70’s had Halloween. The 80’s – A Nightmare on Elm Street. The 90’s – Scream. The 00’s – Final Destination.

So, going through the checklist you have (gimmick wise): An inhuman killing machine masquerading as a man-in-a-mask / being killed in your dreams / being killed by a human killing machine, but in a REALLY meta way / and being killed by death itself.

All initially seen as silly entertainment, if not outright crap. All retconned as classics.

And this decade (albeit a bit late) is offering up Truth or Dare.

Let’s see if it ticks the boxes too… a contrived idea at its core? Check! In this case the world famous teenage party game Truth or Dare.

Is it garbage? Check – but will it STAY that way?

If it makes money (and it has) probably not, because a slew of sequels will likely be coming. Although this first film at least has the “decency” of ending in a way that’ll make that difficult (but not impossible… so…bravo there…?).

Anyway – story wise Truth or Dare follows a group of teenagers on a spring break type holiday in Mexico. The dynamic between them is the usual fare with a horny couple, a douchebag, 2 female best friends, and an unspoken love triangle with a boyfriend who’s with one friend; but has feelings for the other.

And in terms of tokenism they’ve even combined the Asian BFF and the gay guy into one. Which is both progressive and lazy when you think about it. (And in the best traditions of Hollywood, he’s 32 in real life! So definitely bravo there!)

Anyway, the lead girl – played by Pretty Little Liars’ Lucy Hale – meets a guy at a bar and he invites her and her friends to get blasted somewhere that’s off-the-beaten track and NOT touristy. (‘Cause that’s cool kids!).

It’s the ruins of an abandoned mansion and once there he mentions they should play a game. A silly game made more fun with alcohol, so what’s the harm…?

And thus starts the movie proper as the kids all play a round of Truth or Dare. Once they do that, they are “locked in” to playing it for real (for reasons that DO get explained – so don’t worry) in the order that they played.

Of course, they don’t know that straight away, as the mysterious guy disappears into the night, and the teens all return to school life.

But then one by one they hear voices or are approached by people with Joker like faces to play Truth or Dare. If they refuse they find themselves dying in graphic suicidal ways. Should they tell a lie – same, or they fail the dare – same.

And before you think “well there’s the truth loophole, ie: just pick truth every time” the writers have figured a way around that, that is half “oh come on”, and half “meh – that’s fair”.

When watching this I was looking at it through the Final Destination lens. Ie: with a helpful serving of salt and willingness to be carried along by it’s internal logic. And for the most part it holds up.

But it’s still not immune to a handful of moments that plonk it into “that is so stupid” territory. Not least of which is the way (and reason) they get the lead girl and guy to have sex…

The Prognosis:

Will probably be seen as a landmark film by Millennials and Trillennials (which is the name I’m giving people who will be in their 20’s in the 30’s). But for the here and now, it probably would have been just as good (if not better) had they played spin the bottle.

– Antony Yee