The best thing about the Cinedigm September 4, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 horror film "Truth or Dare" is that it exceeds expectations. The quality cinematography and opting for film over videotape are the first good signs, Having a cast with decent talent and skills is another bonus. The behind-the-camera pedigrees include "Dare" being from the producers of "I Spit on Your Grave" and the credits of director Nick Simon including "Cold Comes the Night."
Not having seen "Blumhouse's Truth or Dare" precludes properly comparing our current subject with that film. The promos for the Blumhouse production indicate that the two are similar in story and quality.
"Dare" immediately grabs attention with a dark-and-stormy night in which a teen girl is trying to talk a teen boy down off a roof; suffice it to say that the DPW will have major road kill to clean the next morning. The girl then frantically completes a dare that a dark force commands.
The action soon moves forward 30 years as frat boy Carter hosts handsome blonde med. student Tyler, chubby oddball Holt, and equally central casting type coeds at a pre-Halloween party at the aforementioned house of horrors. Although Carter gets the place through the "Haunted Rental" service and knows that it has a dark past, his ignorance regarding the specifics turns out to be far from blissful.
The mayhem begins Carter coerces the gang into playing the titular game; the first sign of trouble comes when the written challenges differ from those that the group devises. Concern is minimal when the only potential harm is chapped lips and related embarrassment.
Things get more creepy when the invisible hand that is directing the post-adolescents asserts itself more forcibly. Things quickly escalate to requiring that Tyler literally feel the burn. The next bit of terror comes via establishing a deadline of no more than a few minutes and the group learning that noncompliance results in the dare doing them.
One theme that runs throughout "Dare" is the challenge of completing the required task and living to tell the tale; a related aspect is the evil entity that is calling the shots doling out what it considers apt punishment for the individual sins of the players. Hypothetical examples are requiring a date rapist to impale himself on a heated curling iron or someone who is unduly afraid of bees to stick a hand in a hive,
This gets "Dare" off to a strong start that several silly moments do not ruin. Examples of goofiness include a baseball menacingly bounce down stairs and a kitchen appliance go on the attack.
Temporarily taking the game into the real world before the survivors return to the scene of the crime to finish things off also has highlights. The best moments involve an eliminated player returning for another round.
The final lesson is to never bet against the house.
As mentioned above, "Dare" deserves credit for exceeding expectations. On top of that, expanding the scope of inadvertently awakening a dark force beyond using a Ouija board or reciting incantations from a magic book puts a fresh spin on an old concept; one can only hope for a film in which a cursed Scrabble board begins spelling out horrific ways to die,