Saturday, 22 September 2018



The main surprise being that a film involving Russian Roulette, incest, castration, abortion, blinding, endless shrieking, gunshots to the head and YouTube can be not just so endlessly dull, but actively offensive. It's not a question of prudery (a quick look through this blog should indicate that I'm fine with all manner of degenerate sleaze and severed body parts on screen); rather the idea that there should be something more going on than just a checklist of atrocities and "shocking" money shots. A sense of humour and characters you're inclined to give half a hoot about wouldn't go amiss either. Sadly, this one bottles out very quickly and just settles for constantly raising the yuk factor, sometimes against targets who don't deserve it, and without any sense of plausibility or believability. And what's worse is that is doesn't even do that particularly well.

Truth Or Dare (nothing to do with this year's nonsensical teen horror) concerns six idiots with a YouTube channel of supposedly extreme videos, only one of which we ever see: a Russian Roulette stunt that "goes wrong". It's all a self-publicising, harmless lark... except they've attracted the attentions of the worst kind of fan, who takes them all hostage in their isolated house/studio and forces them to play Truth Or Dare according to his own wildly varying rules, where the Truths are the most personal (sexual) secrets and the Dares are bloody and sadistic. Some of them are fatal and the most repulsive footage is immediately uploaded to the internet...

Mutilation, self-mutilation, excessive bloodshed and increasing levels of physical violence and sexual horror (in which one of the participants being dead doesn't mean she can't still be involved) might sound like an entertaining mix for a Friday night in but Truth Or Dare is actually boring. Not just in its inability to spark up any interest in the proceedings or any sympathy for its tiresome victims, but in its inability to be anything other than just an atrocity parade. The maniac is little more than a shrieking lunatic (looking not unlike a younger Charles Manson, probably deliberately), pitched from the start at such a level of hysterical insanity that he has nowhere to go, and neither does the film.

It's cheap and tawdry and, like a lot of these Extreme films, doesn't have anything other than the shocking and splatter material going for it. Like A Serbian Film (which I normally wouldn't bring up except that its director Srdjan Spasojevic is listed in the closing acknowledgements), the more shocking and confrontational they think they're being, the more boring and tiresome the film actually is and Truth Or Dare doesn't even have the defence of being even halfway decently made. Rather, it's almost insulting that they think this is good enough. There isn't anything else on show beyond seven uninteresting people shouting, swearing and screaming at each other and mutilating, abusing or generally hurting each other and themselves; any idea of depth or character is not just unnecessary but actively gets in the way. I found it quite wearing, hard to like, harder to enjoy, impossible to commend.


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