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Film / Truth or Dare (2017)

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Truth or Dare is a 2017 horror film directed by Nick Simon and distributed by Syfy, starring Cassie Scerbo, Brytni Sarpy, Mason Dye, Harvey Guillén, Luke Baines, Ricardo Hoyos, Alexxis Lemire, Christina Masterson, and Heather Langenkamp

Thirty years before, eight friends were forced by a malicious being to play a deadly game of Truth or Dare with only one survivor. Now, eight friends from college have come to the same house and history repeats itself. There's a glimmer of hope. They only have to play three rounds of the game, they have managed to get by with technical skirting of the rules, and it's possible to "share the dare" to blunt its impact.

Not to be confused with Truth or Dare (2018), a suspiciously similar film released in 2018 with similar characters and the same plotline, or Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness, a 1986 horror film that spawned several sequels.

This film exhibits the following tropes:

  • Acid Attack: The flashback in the prologue shows that Donna's last dare was to pour a bucket of acid on her head. She manages to survive by covering herself with her head with a paste of baking soda, though she is still feels all the pain of the acid, and is left scarred.
  • Agony of the Feet: The final two of the seven body parts removed to fulfill Maddie's final dare are Alex's pinky toe and Maddie's entire foot from the ankle

  • An Arm and a Leg: Limb amputation comes up frequently as a dare.
  • Ambiguous Ending and No Ending: The film ends with the last two players, Alex and Maddie, in the car heading to the hospital after Maddie's dare forced her and Alex to remove seven living body parts. At that part, Alex is dared to kill Maddie. Not wanting to live knowing that she killed her friend, she drives her car into a tree. The screen then cuts to black and after a few seconds of silence, Alex and/or Maddie gasp, implying that one or both of them survive (although the subtitles imply that they both did).
  • Ancient Evil: According to Donna, the entity behind the game and the house has been around for centuries, preying on individuals fears through the game.
  • And I Must Scream: Most of the dares reduces the characters to this, but one goes to Jessie whose dare to chain herself to a pipe in the basement. The spirit, clearly not liking how the teens are sharing the dare, locks Jessie to force her to do it alone. Terrified, Jessie is left screaming in absolute fright over being in the basement with all kinds of bugs, which are her greatest phobia.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Alex's dare in the second round is to perform Russian Roulette three times. It doesn't go off the first two times, leading Maddie to take it from her, not wanting her friend to die, only for Tyler take it at the last minute and do it, which results in him blowing his brains out.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The dares that the characters have to perform are intentionally chosen to torture the cast into paranoia and fear. This goes from having to devour burnt flesh, ripping out teeth, Russian roulette, and severing their own body parts.
  • Creepy Basement: As part of her second dare, Jessie is tasked with chaining herself to a pipe in the house's creepy cellar, which is revealed later to be filled with bugs, something that she is absolutely terrified of.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Most of their deaths equate to this, but Jessie gets the worst. Locked into a basement, and devoured by bugs.
  • Deadly Game: The truth or dare game was started by the characters as a way to have fun at the haunted house, only for the dares they are given becoming more deadlier with each round.
  • Driven to Suicide: The dares that the entity demands of the characters to perform can be seen as these if they don't complete. Special mentions goes to Carter who is hung by a noose by the entity for not completing his dare.
  • Dwindling Party: At least two people die every round and it's implied that the being that runs this game will only accept one survivor.
  • Eaten Alive: When she doesn't complete her dare out of fright, Jessie loses the game and gets devoured by a swarm of bugs.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Carter suggests playing the same game of Truth or Dare just like the people in the horror story. Unfortunately for him and his friends, the story is real and by getting the game started in the house, they are now forced to play the game.
  • Exact Words: The previous survivor suggests outsmarting the dares by abusing this to share the load. For example, when the dare is to drink poison, the med student figures out a way for the five still in the game to drink a minimal amount and then vomit it up before it can take effect. It works, but the entity seems to get more vindictive when they succeed and makes the subsequent challenges even deadlier. It's also subverted on several occasions, with the entity sending messages to clarify the rules when they try to abuse the ambiguity of the dares. By the end, the entity is actively foiling their attempts by locking doors so the players have to go it alone.
  • Final Girl: Donna was this for her group of friends in the flashback. The ending seems to imply that both Alex and Maddie survive, making them share this position.
  • Fingore: One of the dares requires removing seven living body parts. After trying to remove little things like chunks of skin and being told those don't count, they're forced to move up to a pinky finger and a pinky toe, among others.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Just before the game starts, there is an instance where Jessie relentlessly stomps on a bug, citing how much she hates bugs, calling them "vile creatures that could eat me."
    • Also, one of the first things she says about herself is that she is vegetarian. Take a wild guess what her first dare involves.
    • As the gang settles into the house, there is a brief scene of Addison taking some pills, something she keeps hidden from her friends.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: To start the game, Alex's dare is to kiss Maddie. It's unsaid if this was written by one of the other characters or the entity itself, but the guys are certainly not complaining.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • Addison's death is shot in a way where she is shown being landing on the pipe off-screen.
    • Tyler's death is seen on screen, but shot from the angle he's holding gun, showing only a little of his brain matter being splatted agains the wall after shooting himself. His body isn't shown after this.
    • Holt's body is also not shown after he gets run over by the car.
    • Averted with the body part scene between Alex and Maddie, as the film treats some truly gory shots of them cutting off their fingers and toes.
  • Haunted House: Initially, all of the tropes are present, from doors slamming shut, things mysteriously turning on, weird voices... and then the players manage to leave, and apparently all is well. Until it turns out the evil is still following them. The action still concludes in the house in question.
  • Horror Hates A Rule Breaker: Failing to follow the rules results in the Entity immediately killing the current player. Addison and Jessie both learn this the hard way.
  • I Know What You Fear: Alex deduces the reason why the entity chose them when they came to the house was because of their weaknesses, fears, and sins, with some of the dares being linked to them.
    • Addison is secretly a drug addict, as she keeps taking painkillers after getting into a car crash a year prior. Out of the characters, she is not given a dare, but a truth demanding that she admits to being an addict, the entity knowing that she would either be too embarrassed or proud to admit this.
    • Carter, who apparently likes Addison, has a lot of footage of her on his camera, which Alex equates to him being a voyeur. His dare involves the entity taking Addison's form to taunt him as his dare is given to him.
    • Tyler cheated on Alex with Maddie, and when Alex's dare is to shoot herself, Russian Roulette style, he takes it upon himself to complete the dare himself to spare both her and Maddie.
    • Holt's second dare is to be run over by a car. He had run over someone and left them paralyzed, but never brought it up to anyone.
    • Jessie, despite being vegetarian, looks down on roaches as vile creatures. Her final dare is to chain herself to a pipe in the basement that is the home of a lot of creepy crawlies.
    • Maddie, as mentioned above, betrayed Alex by sleeping with Tyler. Unlike Addison, she found it in herself to admit it once the question was asked of her.
    • Alex is said to have one, but it is never addressed in the film.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: When Addison refuses to complete her "truth" by admitting that she is an addict, the entity causes a gust of wind to fling out th front door, causing her to land right onto an exposed pipe, killing her instantly.
  • Killer Game Master: The entity behind the dares not only makes them dangerous if not outright fatal, but will force the dares upon those who refuse, even outright murdering them for not playing along. The dares are also designed to prey upon the weaknesses of the players — fears, secrets, etc. — so they'll be more likely to reject the dares and be killed as punishment.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Several of the dares require someone to perform an action that will result in loss of a limb ranging from a kneecapping to needing to cut off extremities.
  • Loophole Abuse: The characters find that they can outsmart the game's instruction by helping each other. While a dare is given to each of them, it never specified that it had to be performed solely by them, which allows them to help each other do to the dares and keep them alive. The game however starts to wise up and gives dare that make it harder for them to help each other.
  • Police Are Useless: The police refuse to admit that the deaths are anything but accidents or suicides. Of course, given the circumstances surronding the cause of death and lack of evidence, this is to be expected. And even going to the police would do nothing to help the characters.
  • Quaking with Fear: Holt in particular is shaking when his dare is to grab the wires from an active chandelier. Tyler has to talk him through it to calm him down.
  • Russian Roulette: One of the dares is to do three rounds of Russian Roulette. As is usual for the trope, the bullet is present for the third round.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Addison when she gets a truth (which was "Are you an addict?"). Since this wasn't a dare, she more or less gets a free pass on harming herself and others. Rather than just admitting that she was a drug addict, she tries to leave, despite the warnings, and dies as a result.
    • The rest of the group isn't much better. Early in the game, they were told that they have to finish the first round before they can leave the house. As soon as Addison dies for refusing to tell the truth, they immediately leave, forgetting that Carter never took his turn. This cost him dearly when he had to do a dare (hang himself for two minutes) in his dorm room without any support from his friends.
    • Downplayed when they are forced to play Russian Roulette for three pulls of the trigger. The optimal strategy would be to spin the chamber after each turn, resetting the odds for each pull of the trigger and thus maximizing their odds of surviving three pulls (not by much, but every little bit helps). They instead merely take turns without doing so, giving them a 50/50 chance of surviving three pulls. Poor Tyler ends up dying on the third pull, but it's impossible to say for sure if spinning would have saved him. In fairness, game theory on Russian Roulette is probably not something any of them has seriously considered.
  • The Tooth Hurts: One of the dares involves removing two teeth with a set of pliers.
  • Two-Timing with the Bestie: Upon being given her truth, Maddie is forced to admit to having slept with Tyler when Alex was away visiting her family.
  • Unwinnable by Design: The last dare of the film is simply "Kill [Maddie]", making it clear that the evil being has no interest in playing fair with the dares.