Horror film review: Dare to play ‘Truth or Dare’ – new film by Jessica Cameron – OWN

truth or dare posterI will keep this review a spoiler-free as possible, but some amount of divulging will no doubt occur so you’ve been warned.

I first saw Jessica Cameron at the 2013 Fatality Fest in Florida, and heard about her new film ‘Truth or Dare.’ There was a fundraiser in progress and after meeting her, reading about the film and watching the trailer (warning it’s a “red band trailer so not safe for kids) I decided to donate. However, I didn’t get to see the film as it is still on the festival circuit at that time and still is today.

Now, many festivals and many awards later (28 and counting as of 5/1/2014), I was finally able to see this horror film at Immersed in Ink’s Tinley Park Tattoo Arts & Horror Festival yesterday (4/19/14). In fact, I ended up seeing several screenings during the day, and it’s indeed one of those films that demands multiple viewings if for no other reason to test the endurance of your friends to see when they will cry uncle.

I only knew initially that the movie was about a group of friends playing a real game of bloody, gory “truth or dare.” The how/why they would do this was a mystery and things quickly click into place.

The film is a commentary on our culture’s incessant narcissism, celebrity obsession and viral video addiction. These “daredevils” have created a national outcry over their videos purporting to show actual deaths resulting from vicious versions of this game.

What transpires is one of the bloodiest, sickest films I’ve ever seen. The f/x are top notch for a low budget indie. I could almost taste the copper from the blood. The truths reveal the lies we keep from even our closest friends (I definitely will NOT spoil those) and the “dares” get more vicious and brutal from round to round. Throughout there’s some decent humor that made myself and many attendees laugh out loud multiple times.

Amy BurrillIf you enjoy sick, twisted horror (such as works by Jimmyo Burril & April “Chainsaw Sally” Burril, Debbie Rochon or the Soska Sisters, Jen & Sylvia) you’ll be right at home. If you laugh as flesh is cut and people are brutally wounded, maimed, etc. this film is one to support. Go see it at a film festival, buy it when it’s out and give it reviews. Let the big studios know the horror community supports both strong female writers/actresses/directors and boundary-pushing horror/gore.

For too long the industry has celebrated male artists while ignoring women (in general and horror specifically). As a horror author who’s come to know many of these artists I’ve referenced, I stand firmly behind the next generation of horror leaders – strong female voices who demand our attention and respect… or else.

Is this film for everyone? No. But I’m telling you it’s WELL worth the ride. And like any good roller coaster, you’ll be a wreck afterward and then ready to go again.

Rating 4.5 out of 5 – must see/own/review/spread the word

Pre-order your copy of Truth or Dare today for $25! You’ll also get a signed poster or picture from the film. Click on the link below to find out more information:

***Spoiler warning***

Delving into the game that takes up the majority of the film, I wanted to express my sincere admiration for Jessica Cameron’s vision and direction of this brutal film. Others would have pulled back from some of the gore/violence, but she pushed forward into each logical next step.

The film opens with the team’s most recent episode which involved a variation of Russian roulette that appears to go wrong. Milking the controversy, the “victim” actually goes into hiding for awhile to add to the “reality” that he’s really died.

What follows from those events, when faced by their #1 one fan/fanatic who desperately wants to join them, they are forced to play the game for real. He knows more about them then they know about each other and delivers brutal punishments for those trying to avoid the truth.

Unlike most films, the women are the real standouts here and I was really struck by both Heather Dorff and director Jessica Cameron’s characters who are not the cookie cutter women we normally see in horror films. I would NOT want to play this game with either them despite considering them peers and friends. I wouldn’t last to round two.

While most people will focus on the brutal dares, many of the audience members in the screenings I attended were sickened by the revealed truths. And cleverly, despite being essentially forced at gun point to play to the death, the truths some reveal feed into executing the dares.

Jessica Cameron in Truth or DareI liked the realism in the writing. All of the brutal actions, in particular some so spectacularly awful I would never dare to reveal them, were researched for accuracy by Jessica. The actresses here are all more than up to the challenge of playing strong women in a horrific situation. I love Devanny Pinn’s work, and I will only say that her portion of the truth and dare rounds will haunt you. One thing in particular really challenges the strongest audience with something I guarantee you’ve never seen in a horror film before.

I also liked the simple attention to detail of the events being film on alternating memory cards and uploaded as the game progressed. Many films skip even the simple reality of things, but this felt natural and “real” in terms of what would be occurring.

And the killer constantly checking their “views” and comments of each new scene was both realistic and hilarious. The obsession with “going viral,” view counts and viewer comments in today’s world is skewered over and over much like the participants.

official-red-band-truth-or-dare-trailer-1As I disclosed, I am a horror author who calls these folks peers and friends, but I still take a critical eye to all films I watch. In fact, out of respect to my friends, I would honestly say I hold their work to a higher standard than others. Just as I would expect them to comment on my work and drive me to be my best that’s who I approach things.

I can easily say that this film is a sick one that I love and am proud to have had any part in supporting and promoting. I expect to see a lot more of Jessica, and Heather, in the future and the horror world will be the better and bloodier for that!

Must see/own/review/spread the word

Pre-order your copy of Truth or Dare today for $25! You’ll also get a signed poster or picture from the film. Click on the link below to find out more information:

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