25th Aug2014

Frightfest 2014: ‘Truth or Dare’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jessica Cameron, Ryan Kiser, Heather Dorff, Shelby Stehlin, Devanny Pinn, Brandon Van Vliet, Ryan Kiser, Jesse Wilson, Buz Wallick, Grae Drake, Brett Wagner | Written by Jessica Cameron, Jonathan Scott Higgins | Directed by Jessica Cameron


Uber-prolific scream queen Jessica Cameron turns director for this, her feature-film debut, Truth or Dare. which sees six friends find internet stardom as the “Truth or Daredevils”, producing truth or dare videos with a violent twist. What starts out as fame, fun and games turns deadly when their number one fan decides he wants to join in the “fun” only this time they’ll be playing by his rules…

Who would have thought that a sweet-talking blonde Canadian girl could make such a nasty, mean-spirited horror film? Not me that’s for sure. It’s surprising to think that, given all the complaints of misogyny and sexism in horror that a female director could create such a misogynistic movie! Yet this isn’t the first time a female director has put her cast through the ringer – the likes of Slumber Party Massacre and Sorority House Massacre both immediately spring to mind – but it seems years spent on B-movie film sets have given Cameron an insight into what makes for a compelling (if twisted) horror film, how to make the most of a low budget, and how to put her cast through the ringer when it comes to torture, mutilation and degradation… Poor Devanny Pinn is all I’ll say on that matter.

There are some seriously brutal gore sequences in this film that push the boundaries of acceptability – even for an “extreme” horror film – with effects set pieces that honestly wouldn’t look out of place in a German splatter movie, including multiple counts of genital mutilation, eye gouging, faces blown off and an abortion scene that puts Joe D’Amato’s video nasty Anthropophagus to shame.

And for the most part it would seem that the OTT gore is the films only unique selling point however there’s an underlying want, nay need, to discover the truth about just what and why this is happening to the cast of miscreants, and that’s what will keep audiences watching way beyond the bloody mess that seeps from every frame of the film. That and the intrigue of just how fucked-up the next member of the truth or daredevils will be – after all the cast is comprised of the most unlikeable characters committed to celluloid, all supposed friends hiding secrets from one another.

Hell, who wouldn’t want to kill some of Truth or Dare‘s cast of characters, which includes a paedophile and an incestuous brother and sister? I would. Surprisingly however, even though they are unlikeable characters you still can’t help but feel for them when they’re put through the ringer by a maniacal Derik, the groups psychotic super-fan. It’s a real testament to the films script and direction that you side with this pretty horrible bunch, of course it helps that Ryan Kiser, as Derik, is such an evil psychotic bastard (I can’t wait to see him as the titular character in Brandon Slagle’s House of Manson) that he makes even the reprobates that are the “Truth or Daredevils” look almost angelic.

With a lot to say on the pursuit of fame (or infamy) in this YouTube-loving generation, and the price people can pay when they achieve it, Truth or Dare is most definitely a product of our time. It’s also damn good gory fun!

****½  4.5/5


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