All the Ridiculous Dares in 'Truth or Dare,' a Horror Movie Without Scares
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the movie Truth or Dare, and discusses the ending of the movie in detail.
Truth Or Dare, the latest low-budget scarefest from Get Out and Split producers Blumhouse, sounds like a fake movie poster you'd see in the background of an episode of 30 Rock. The movie's premise, which finds a gaggle of college students led by Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale traveling to Mexico for their last spring break and playing a "cursed" version of the classic teenage sleepover game, is as contrived, paper-thin, and forgettable as Hollywood thrillers get. But even if the project had been simply a title dreamed up without a story, a script, or a director, it would have one thing going for it: You'd want to know what the dares are.
For the most part, Truth or Dare is as disposable as horror movies get. The dialogue is filled with exposition and references to Snapchat, the jumpscares are half-hearted, and the convoluted mythology struggles to explain why exactly these unfortunate kids have to play the titular game. Eventually, we learn that it has to do with a nun, a church, and an ancient demon named Calax, but, really, the backstory doesn't matter.
The dares, on the other hand, do matter! With four co-writers credited on the project, including director Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2, Never Back Down), you'd hope that the filmmakers would at least be able to cook up some bizarre variations on the old high school standbys. (They mostly involve kissing, public nudity, and petty theft, right? This game is awful!) Read on to find out the truth behind the movie's grisliest (and goofiest) dares.
Set someone on fire in a gas stationYou probably saw this one in the movie's trailer, and it opens the film as well. (According to an interview with Wadlow, it was also the first dare he pitched at the meeting when he decided to take on the project.) A young woman in a hooded sweatshirt, whom we later learn was part of the game that preceded the one played by our heroes, walks into a gas station, douses another customer in lighter fluid, and then lights her on fire. As far as "fun" dares go, this one is very intense and will land you in jail.
Expose your genitals to a crowded bar while standing on a pool tableThere are a few other comparatively mild-mannered dares that occur earlier in the movie when the friends first arrive in Mexico, but let's skip those because they're mostly boring. (Streaking, giving a lap dance, etc.) This dare, which is also featured in the trailer, happens to goofy, Hawaiian shirt-wearing bro Ronnie, a source of comic relief who mostly just annoys the other characters, and it helps lay out the "rules" for how the evil version of truth or dare operates. Like Saw, It Follows, or Blumhouse's own The Purge series, there have to be rules.
When you're playing the game, someone around you will get that creepy grin on her face and ask, "Truth or dare?" It often occurs at a time when you're particularly vulnerable, and whatever you choose, you must perform the task in a timely manner or "the game" will kill you. Ronnie learns this the hard way when a girl at the bar being controlled by the demon asks him to stand up on the billiards table and "show everyone your pool cue." He stands up but gets cold-feet when the crowd starts recording and mocking him. Attempting to bail on the dare, he steps on a stray pool ball and snaps his neck, dying instantly. RIP Ronnie, the most obnoxious guy in this very obnoxious movie.
Smash your friend's hand with a hammerIf it's not clear already, the Truth or Dare demon lives for drama. This is the first dare Markie (Violett Beane) has to perform after Olivia (Hale) reveals that Markie's always cheating on her boyfriend Lucas (Teen Wolf's Tyler Posey). Markie doesn't want to do it, but Olivia says something that upsets her and soon enough Markie hits her hand like she's hammering a nail into a house for Habitat for Humanity, one of do-gooder Olivia's favorite volunteer organizations. Breaking your best friend's hand does not end up being a great way to repair a broken relationship. Who knew?
Chug a bottle of vodka while walking around the perimeter of your roofThis one is very, very dangerous -- the roof is high and there's an extremely spiky iron gate below -- but it does feel in line with the game's irresponsible, teenage dirtbag origins. This is one of the more suspenseful sequences in the movie and gives you a sense of how the premise could operate if it were pushed to same absurd realm of the Final Destination series. (Let's get a roller coaster dare in the sequel.) Ultimately, the character forced to perform this dare survives when her friends knock over the iron gate and use a mattress as a crash-pad for her. This game is all about teaching college students the value of teamwork.
Sleep with your best friend's boyfriendThe truth or dare demon could have a long career as a reality television producer. Anyone who's ever played truth or dare knows that "truth" is often the easier option, even when you're not playing with a sadistic hellspawn, and the film's screenwriters clearly realized that. So they make a point of introducing a rule where if two people choose "truth," then the next person must choose "dare." Convenient but necessary for this dare, where our protagonist Olivia is dared to sleep with Lucas, her secret crush and her best friend Markie's boyfriend. Again, get the truth or dare demon on a Bravo show.
Steal your police officer father's gun and make him beg for his lifeDon't do this one! If you, like the character Brad (Hayden Szeto), are a young gay man who just came out to your gruff, distant cop dad, maybe stay away from him when you're playing this game. Because the game is going to dare you to steal his gun and make him beg for his life. Then you'll get shot by another police officer and the movie will have fewer characters to deal with as the plot scoots along to its finale in Mexico.
Tell your best friend the darkest secret you've been hiding for yearsThis is really more of a dare, right? That's always one of the problems with truth or dare as a game: You can always just dare someone to tell you the truth about whatever topic you were hoping to hear the truth about. Anyway, the demon turns this against Olivia, who spends most of the movie saying she doesn't want to reveal a disturbing truth in front of Markie, and forces her to spill her guts. (To make a convoluted story slightly less convoluted: Markie's dad killed himself after he attempted to kiss Olivia and she told him his daughter would be better off without him; Olivia has been holding in this secret for years because she didn't want her best friend blaming her for her father's death; when Olivia reveals all this, it doesn't go over great.) The lesson here: Don't keep secrets about your best friend's dad's suicide.
Kill one of the two women you're sleeping with in your friend groupI think you can see a pattern emerging here...
Murder your best friendCalax, the conflict-craving truth or dare demon, is not going to help you achieve your #friendshipgoals. The tongue-cutting-off that happens at the end of the movie doesn't technically qualify as a dare -- it's more of a way to stop the ritual -- but the part where Olivia is dared to kill Markie definitely is. (I think? The ending of the movie is very dimly lit and, frankly, confusing.)
The actual final moments of Truth or Dare, where Olivia attempts to outsmart the demon Calax by forcing it to reveal a loophole to let her escape the games, are packed with arguments, spells, and rituals. (That's where the improvised tongue surgery comes in.) The important part is that Olivia realizes she can save her friend Markie only by inviting more people to play the game. How exactly does she do that? She goes viral by filming a video where she invites all her YouTube subscribers -- and anyone else who watches her clip -- to play the game, effectively initiating the entire YouTube-loving planet into a massive game of Truth or Dare. We see people all over the globe get that weird grin on their faces. Olivia spares Markie's life by essentially dooming the entire planet. Not cool, Olivia. Even more not cool? This is totally an attempt to set up a sequel where we see people all over the world get challenged to stupid dares. At the very least, they should cast Johnny Knoxville in Truth or Dare 2: Let's get some reals stunts in these movies.
As for the impressionable young minds exposed to this movie, if you want to spice up a dull gathering of friends, maybe try a less sinister icebreaker, like Two Truths and a Lie -- at least until some horror producer turns that one into a cheesy movie, too.