If you are or have ever been a teen, then you’re familiar with the game Truth or Dare, wherein confused and horny high schoolers are allowed a safe environment in which to make out. Usually, the only consequences for not complying with the requests of the game are groans and about 10 seconds of group shaming. But what if the consequence … was DEATH?
That’s the basic premise of Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, the horror movie starring Pretty Little Liars’ Lucy Hale and Teen Wolf’s Tyler Posey (and thus scientifically crafted to appeal to The Teens). In order to get that premise to work, we go with Hale’s college senior Olivia on a spring break trip to Mexico and into a monastery haunted by a malevolent spirit. From that one night, she and her friends are cursed with a never-ending game of Truth or Dare that also involves creepy Snapchat-filter demon faces sometimes, and a contrived “two truths means someone has to choose dare” rule to make sure they don’t just do the smart thing of choosing truth over and over and complying so no one gets hurt.
Of course, now I have to wonder whether a Never Have I Ever horror movie is next in the pipeline. But until then, I have a few Truth or Dare questions, like:
Why is Tyson working on med school applications in May — after spring break?
Tyson, the bro-iest of the gang, is too preppy and focused on med school applications to worry much about the haunted slumber party game they’re non-consensually engaged in. But this is post-spring-break. Why is he doing med school applications — and then med school interviews in May? I was pre-med in college, so I feel perfectly qualified to state that med school applications are due August of application year, and interviews take place from September through April at the latest. Honestly, Tyson should know by now if he got into med school. There are no applications that would be due after spring break. Nonsense.
Why is there a Dia de los Muertos poster in the spring?
Maybe this entire universe’s calendar is messed up? Because when Olivia comes back to school, she gets a creepy “truth or dare” message written on a poster … for Dia de los Muertos, which I understand is thematically fitting, but which also takes place in the fall. So, what the hell?
How did Olivia have a flashlight and camera on her iPhone going at the same time?
While Olivia and her friends are in the creepy haunted monastery, she keeps her phone’s flashlight on so she can see, and then she takes a picture of the plaque on the wall. But iPhones don’t let you do that — if you open your camera, the flashlight automatically shuts off. So, once again, what the hell?
When did Carter put beer in the monastery?
Carter convinces Olivia and her friends to hike out to the haunted mission to play Truth or Dare because, as we discover, he was stuck in the haunted game himself and wanted more people involved so it would take longer for it to get to his turn. When they all get there, there’s a cooler full of beer waiting, and they all drink it. How? Carter was with Olivia at the bar all night, so it’s not like he was hanging out at the monastery drinking alone. And they can’t be left over from when he and his friends were playing — that was weeks ago. Is this weeks-old warm beer they’re drinking? It has to be, right?
Who sent out the video of Ronnie dying? And how did they all get to the moment of his death at the same time?
Apparently the demon is a weird sex-offender type, because Ronnie’s dare is to get on top of a pool table and show everyone his junk. When he refuses, the demon possesses him and forces him to fall and break his neck. His death is recorded on cellphone video and texted out to the rest of the group. First, one has to wonder why someone would share that incredibly disturbing video, and then share it with Olivia’s entire friend group. Olivia, Lucas, Markie, and Brad all received that video at almost the same time from, one can only assume, some random acquaintance going around texting traumatizing footage for the heck of it.
But simply receiving the text, seemingly anonymously, isn’t the only weird thing. All of them receive the text a few seconds apart, and they all open it as soon as they receive it. Olivia gets her phone a full 10 or so seconds after Markie began watching the video, and yet they all gasp at the moment of death at the exact same time as they watch. They weren’t sent a link to a livestream — it was a video clip. So how did they all get to the moment of death at the same time when they started the video at different moments? It’s like the entire space-time continuum of this universe is thrown out of whack, and no one notices.
What qualifies as answering a “truth” correctly?
For centuries, philosophers have debated the nature, and the existence, of objective truth itself. For the questions the demons ask, what qualifies as being truthful enough to not be murdered for it? What if they’re asked a question they don’t know the full answer to? Or what if it’s a truth they’ve been suppressing themselves? One striking example comes when Lucas is mid-coitus with Olivia and the demon asks him which of the girls he actually has feelings for. While literally still having sex with Olivia, he admits that he actually loves Markie. But love, especially young love, is a fluid and imprecise term. Does true love even exist? Can’t strong feelings of affection exist for both Markie and Olivia simultaneously? More importantly: Does the demon know the objectively true answer Lucas should be giving? Can this demon provide empirical evidence for an objective truth with regard to something as non-quantifiable as love? Forget torturing horny college kids, this demon is uprooting the basis of philosophy as an academic discipline.
And where’s the line when it comes to fulfilling the dares?
Just as the truth is often messy and imprecise, so too are the terms of some of the dares. Do you have to follow the letter of the dare, or the spirit? For instance, when Penelope is told she needs to walk along the roof of the building until she finishes a bottle of vodka, how close to the edge of the building does she need to be? Why can’t she walk ridiculously slowly? Can she give herself some sort of harness? The demon didn’t specifically say not to. And what about when the demon makes Lucas and Olivia have sex? There’s a broad array of sexual activity outside of vaginal penetration; does oral sex count? Digital penetration? How heteronormative is this demon?
Why did the demon call Sam “Carter”?
We have to watch this movie with the understanding that the demon is omnipotent, otherwise how would he know all of their intimate secrets? And yet when the demon is confronted at the end of the movie, he refers to Sam as “Carter.” Carter was the fake name Sam used to trick Olivia and her friends; we know full well by this point that his real name is Sam. So why the hell doesn’t the demon know it?
Why did no one touch the monastery for 100 years?
The mission where this nun massacre took place is creepy and derelict, but it’s also within walking distance of an incredibly popular tourist resort. How did no one either (a) tear it down or (b) renovate it and turn it into a boutique hotel? And don’t say, “Oh, well it was haunted by a demon so the demon kept it from being touched,” because no, you’re wrong, the demon was fully inert and contained in the ceramic jar with the nun’s tongue until Sam/Carter broke it when he was playing truth or dare with his friends. So up until that point, there is absolutely no reason it was just kept there.
But seriously, how does time work in this movie?!?!?!?!
Okay, here is the most compelling evidence that time is fully broken in this movie and the film takes place in a world untethered by the laws of fourth-dimensional physics. Lucas and Olivia get a clue about the demon that prompts them to drive to Mexico to meet the old nun who survived the creepy mission massacre. They mention that it’s three hours away. They leave at night, after they’ve had sex, while it’s still dark. Presumably, this is around 3, 4 in the morning at the absolute latest. They ring the doorbell and confront the old nun’s granddaughter, and then have to wait an hour while the nun writes down her story. We know they wait an hour because Olivia checks her phone and says, “We’ve been waiting an hour.” And when she checks her phone it is 4 in the afternoon. That means they got there at 3 p.m. That means they left at noon. HOW!? It was still dark out! It was night! What is time? Did the demon dare them to exist outside the plane of reality?????
Truth or Dare is in theaters now. Go see it and please try to figure out any of these answers.