While on a hard-drinking spring break trip to Mexico, the young people at the center of this unforgivably humorless horror flick jump into a game of Truth or Dare, which they discover — too late — is demonically possessed. They’re college seniors, but they lack the common sense shown by most kindergartners.
We expect characters in horror movies to do dumb stuff, prompting audience groans or shouts of “Don’t go in there!” But those same characters must earn at least a shred of sympathy for movie magic to happen. The privileged protagonists of “Truth or Dare” are neither interesting nor likable. They don’t even seem worthy of the academic degrees they’re getting.
It is the goody-goody heroine Olivia (Lucy Hale) who carelessly invites a stranger (Landon Liboiron) to join their group in Mexico. He lures them to a crumbling old mission, late at night, launching the game (and its curse).
The game somehow follows them back to campus, where they are trapped by its deadly rules: Tell the truth, or you die. Do the dare, or you die. When it’s your turn, you see the face of a friend or stranger twist into a distorted grin, as a voice orders you to reveal awful truths or commit mayhem.
While they all try to outsmart the game, Olivia and her best friend (Violett Beane) fall out over a guy (Tyler Posey). A pre-med student (Nolan Gerard Funk) sells forged prescriptions, and his girlfriend (Sophia Taylor Ali) has a drinking problem. An awkward subplot about their gay pal (Hayden Szeto) feels tacked on.
Perhaps director Jeff Wadlow (“Kick-Ass 2”) and his three co-screenwriters cobbled together such a weak story in an effort to broaden its appeal. But the results are neither convincingly scary nor emotionally affecting.
★1/2 (out of ★★★★)<br>Truth or Dare<br>When • Opens Friday, April 13.<br>Where • Area theaters.<br>Rating • PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, alcohol abuse, some sexuality, coarse language and mature thematic material.<br>Running time • 100 minutes.