Directed by: Jessica Cameron
Written by: Jessica Cameron, Jonathon Scott Higgins
Cast: Jessica Cameron, Ryan Kiser, Heather Dorff, Shelby Stehlin
Swift shot: If this film doesn’t disturb you, seek out a psychiatrist! I can’t really recommend this film to anyone who isn’t a bonafide gore junkie. With a somewhat slow start, Truth or Dare quickly becomes one of the most difficult films to endure. And when you realize the first guy to die was the lucky one, what else is there to say?
John (Jesse Wilson) and his group of friends are YouTube stars, known for pushing the edge of reality based violence with their group, The Truth or Daredevils. The film opens when one dare goes seemingly awry and poor Tony (Brandon Van Vliet) is shot in the head! Not much of a spoiler to tell you that Tony didn’t actually die, and that is what you get with this group, a bunch of fakers who just enjoy keeping people guessing. Thing is, you never know who your audience truly is, until you meet them face to face.
John has purchased a house, his own property, at 27 years old, and he’s pretty proud of his place, and is all set to show it off and use it as a set for their YouTube channel. They are all there for a pajama party and to shoot some new scenes for their dedicated fans.
One of their fans is already there, a complete Procrustean psychopath, Derik (Kiser) who is their biggest fan – NO ONE is a bigger fan than Derik, seriously. He knows everything about these people. And he’s decided to play their game but for real this time, no faking anything, he wants authenticity, otherwise the game is rigged and is stupid.
Derik’s character reminds me why I am more terrified of zip ties than anything else in the world. Once someone has you completely subdued, you become their toy to play with as they see fit. And, my, God does Derik enjoy toying with these people. By the end, you’ll just want it to end, much like the players in his demented version of Truth or Dare.
As the game progresses, we learn more about the characters and some of them are difficult to root for as their secrets are revealed. But, maybe with the exception of one of the “players” no one deserves the fate Derik has in store for these damaged souls.
Each one of the characters has a disturbing past, or secret, that they wouldn’t want the world to discover. There’s Ray (Stehlin) and his sister Courtney (Devanny Pinn) who share something twisted together that no one else in the group knows about. There’s Jennifer (Cameron), Ray’s girlfriend and Michelle (Dorff) who is Tony’s girlfriend. Tony is the whipping boy of the Truth or Daredevils, and when you see what Derik makes him endure, it’s brutal! But really each character that ends up “losing” the game, is at least out of the game . . . in the supreme sense.
That is the only mercy to Truth or Dare, once the people are dead, they can’t be toyed with any longer. Well, to some extent anyway; Derik is full of ideas.
There isn’t much of a twist with Truth or Dare, what you see is what you get, a deeply fucked up fan holds his favorite YouTubers accountable for all of their past transgressions. They play the game or there are consequences. The special effects were pretty solid, considering this was an actual indie film, and not some Rob Redford studio that has tons of dollars to invest. No, Jessica is a true blue guerrilla film-maker, she went to the twisted people on the Internet and asked them to help her make her first film a disturbing reality.
You typically don’t see this level of gore on screen. After you watch Truth or Dare, it might make you reconsider trying to get anyone’s attention online. And it will make you want to enroll at some liberal arts college so you can find a safe space. Sadly, there are no safe spaces for The Truth or Daredevils. They are righteously and truly fucked!
If you are looking to be disturbed to your core, congratulations, you’ve found your film. And, if you are sensitive . . . you’ve been duly warned!
Disclaimer: Years ago I was asked to pitch in on this film via kickstarter, and I have been following its production loosely ever since. And now Truth or Dare is finally here, and Director Jessica Cameron fought like hell to get it released the way she wanted it done. That’s admirable in an industry where sensitivities often come into play around bottom line business and concerns about being too grisly. Like it or loathe it, she did it. And since this film came from her demented mind, she’s probably not someone to piss off . . . like, ever. There’s a little piece of Derik inside her.