A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Truth or Dare is a supernatural horror movie based on the same-named party game. It's quite violent, with the usual assortment of unusual horror-movie killings; they're gruesome -- think broken neck, stabbings, shootings, someone being set on fire -- but their gore is restrained just enough to maintain a teen-friendly rating. College-age characters (played by the likes of Pretty Little Liars' Lucy Hale and Teen Wolf's Tyler Posey) smoke and drink a lot, without consequences (one character appears to be a budding alcoholic), and there's some swearing, including "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more. Characters also hook up frequently, though there's no nudity beyond a woman's bare back during a sex scene that's cut short. Characters also recollect young girls being raped by an adult authority figure, as well as another attempted inappropriate relationship.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
TRUTH OR DARE starts with "good girl" Olivia (Lucy Hale) skipping out on a Habitat for Humanity commitment to go party with friends in Mexico, so you know there's going to be trouble. Her BFF Markie (Violett Beane); Markie's boyfriend, Lucas (Tyler Posey); and all of their pals drink for a week, and then decide it would be fun to go to an off-limits ruined mission -- in a remote location, in total darkness, in a foreign country, with a guy who looks like Harry Potter grown up wrong (Landon Liboiron) -- to play Truth or Dare. Something evil shows up, and after the young people go home, they start seeing and hearing bizarre things, trapping them into a continuation of the game, now turned magically deadly.
Is it any good?
This horror film is unoriginal, pandering, and nondescript enough to be brushed off -- until the ending, which is so maddeningly foolish that it practically requires a warning to stay away. The premise of Truth or Dare is ridiculous, of course; it's yet another in a long line of "innocent games turned into devilish rites" genre movies. These films systematically knock off their attractive young cast members, while the gore, sex, and language are all controlled enough to ensure a teen-friendly rating. Somehow, though, that doesn't stop the movie from using child rape and other inappropriate adult-young person relationships as plot devices. It's impossible to guess exactly how the pitch meeting for this movie went, but it sure seems like someone said, "Hey, those Snapchat filters look weird ... could we make a movie about that?"
The acting, writing, and directing are all standard. The supposed surprises are badly telegraphed. Without anything genuinely eerie or new to offer, it relies almost solely on very loud noises to affect viewers. And then the ending (which won't be spoiled here) so violates everything the film has set up -- including even the most generous moviegoer's agreement to suspend disbelief -- that it has to be called out. There were audible groans and chuckles in the audience. Were the filmmakers totally out of ideas? Did they just lowball their estimate of their audience's IQ? Were they that desperate to set up a franchise? If you're lucky, you'll never be forced to ponder these questions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it takes to scare viewers these days. How does a viewer's age affect that? Do younger viewers, having seen fewer horror films, require less creativity? Is there anything scary about Truth or Dare? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Does the movie have a consistent moral code? Does that code shift? Are the questions it raises interesting?
- In theaters: April 13, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: July 17, 2018
- Cast: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane
- Director: Jeff Wadlow
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence and disturbing content, alcohol abuse, some sexuality, language and thematic material
- Last updated: July 16, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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