The nasty little British import known as Truth or Dare (or Truth or Die, if you’re in the U.S.) gets off to a rough start. It’s one of those horror movies in which the main characters are outrageously obnoxious (and wealthy!) teenagers who love nothing more than drugs, sex, and the act of being cruel to one another. At this point a filmmaker has to decide if A) his characters are hateful bastards so we can enjoy it when they get killed, or B) his characters are hateful bastards who will actually evolve into (relatively) three-dimensional characters before all the gory mayhem hits the screen.
Truth or Die takes some time before it tips its hand, but fortunately it seems that writer Matthew McGuchan and director Robert Heath have more up their sleeve than simply “let’s kill all these rotten little bastards.” That’s part of what the flick has to offer, but there’s also a broad, pulpy, trashy appeal to the various plot contortions that make Truth or Die fun to watch. And I did mean “broad, pulpy, trashy” as a compliment.
The plot is simple stuff: five rich jerks and two lovable ladies mistreat a nervous nerd, which leads to a tragic death, which leads to a mysterious invitation… which leads to a colorful little mash-up stitched together from threads of Saw (there’s a bit of torture), April Fool's Day (there is a mystery), and something campy like Cruel Intentions, because there are blackmails, double-crosses, and secrets of a sexual nature afoot.
Clearly none of this is meant to be taken all that seriously, and virtually none of it is startlingly original, but like I said, the flick has some nasty jolts, a few twists, and some wacky stuff you probably won’t see coming. Toss in a few strong performances, a director who clearly wants to put his camera in some interesting places, and (after the aforementioned slow start) a pace that picks up steam and gradually gets pretty insane, and you have a pretty decent 90 minute genre flick from our fine friends in Great Britiain. They make tons of indie horror flicks in the UK, and while Truth or Die is unlikely to become a cult classic, it stands as one of their more amusing exports of the past year or two.
P.S. 23-year-old actress Jennie Jacques will be a star some day. Or my wife. Preferably both. Fine, she’s too young for me, but while her looks are what first caught my eye, it was her brazen, sexy, scene-stealing performance that kept me interested.