I have problems with revenge tales. Far too often they’re a retread, and I understand that the concept of revenge is universal but there are very few tales that are really good enough to make you care. Carrie is a good example of doing this kind of thing correctly; set up a protagonist and give them a reason to root for her while making the antagonists so deplorable that you’d like to jump into the screen and kill them yourself. Hopefully the upcoming revision with Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore can maintain that sensibility. But while that’s uncertain, one thing is: UK’s Truth or Die is not one of these films.
A game of truth or dare at a high school party results in an outcast named Felix being humiliated, rejected, and beaten up. After some time, for some reason, he has invited six of them to his birthday party at his parents’ cabin. They all decide to go mainly because it’s a place to party and get free booze. When they arrive, they discover that Felix is on a business trip and his brother Justin is there with the bar stocked for a surprise party. Soon the group is partying and a truth or dare game is suggested. Shortly after the game begins, Justin reveals the real reason he’s gathered them there, and the stakes get raised. For example, life or death.
Director Robert Heath keeps things moving at a nice pace and sets the story up in an interesting way, but it’s all downhill from there. Not all is what it seems and the story takes a few interesting turns, but none of it is enough to get you caring for what happens. One twist SHOULD really get you back into the thing, but then it really ends up going nowhere. Further complications and escape attempts pop up and become more trite and eye rolling as they go on. Most of the problems extend from the paper thin, unlikable characters across the board. It’s difficult to really care what’s happening if you don’t care about any of the people involved. Up until the end, nothing seems to be more than a petty squabble between young idiots, and by the time you figure out it’s something more, it’s far too late for it to even matter.
This gave me memories of another UK import from last year – Demons Never Die – which deals with a lot of the same territory (hell, it even shares at least two actors). That one takes the slasher route to revenge but does so in a similarly familiar way. Both are competently made and have a few good moments, but ultimately end up bland and forgettable. Imports from the UK on the genre front seem to be a dime a dozen, and usually it’s those with a self deprecating humor that stand out. Save your time and wait for a good import to come along. Cockneys vs. Zombies, anyone?
Truth or Die can currently be found on VOD and will hit DVD through the Bloody-Disgusting Selects label on October 9th