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Truth or Dare **

Yet another reminder that the only memorable game-turned-movie is "Clue"! 

Is it worth $10? No  

At some point in our lives, most of us have played Truth or Dare. The rules are simple: Choose “Truth” or “Dare,” then either tell the truth or complete the dare. In real life, not fulfilling your obligation will cost you nothing, except perhaps some fun points from your friends. In “Truth or Dare,” it will cost you your life.

It’s a clever premise, and being a thriller from Blumhouse Productions, the studio behind “Get Out,” there’s plenty to hope for here. And perhaps it’s this optimism that makes the lackluster movie all the more frustrating. The story is thin, the dialog is lazy, the acting…doesn’t really matter. This is by-the-numbers mediocrity for which the best compliment is that it’s only rated PG-13; we don’t need to see the grisly gruesomeness that’s implied, and thankfully the worst of it is left off screen.

College seniors, spring break. Olivia (Lucy Hale) and Markie (Violett Beane) are best friends, so Markie tricks her into going to Mexico for the week. Markie’s boyfriend Lucas (Tyler Posey) joins them, as do party girl Penelope (Sophia Ali) and her boyfriend Tyson (Nolan Gerard Funk), and their gay friend Brad (Hayden Szeto). Moron acquaintance Ronnie (Sam Lerner) bumps into them in Mexico, and the random stranger at the bar who sticks up for Olivia, Carter (Landon Liboiron), rounds out the octet.

With the bar closing and spring break nearly over, Carter insists he knows of an after party. He takes them to a middle-of-nowhere abandoned church, and kindly suggests playing Truth or Dare. The game is awkward as usual, until Carter ruins it by getting weird: “Tell the truth or you die, do the dare or you die,” he says before running off.

Of course, there wouldn’t be a movie if his foreboding warning didn’t have credence. Figuring out how to survive long enough to beat the game is intriguing for a while. Then the story behind how, exactly, this is all happening comes, and it’s a bit weak. This happens when you have four credited screenwriters (more than two is always a bad sign). A little more ingenuity would’ve gone a long way here.

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Some of the dares – emphasis on “some” – are reasonably creative. The best is when burgeoning alcoholic Penelope is dared to walk along the edge of a three-story roof until she finishes a bottle of vodka. If only director Jeff Wadlow instilled more imagination into the rest of the film. Instead we get random individuals morphing into Joker smiles and freaking people out. It gets old after a while.

“Truth or Dare” deserves credit for this, though: At one point Lucas advises to only choose truth. This makes sense because while the truth can hurt, at least it won’t kill you. This means college seniors actually used logic and did something smart. Unfortunately it doesn’t work out due to a plot contrivance that manifests shortly thereafter, and that’s fine, because not much else works out in this movie either.

Did you know?
The cast played a real game of Truth or Dare during filming; the only central cast member not to play was Hale – she chose to go to bed instead.

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