Truth Or Dare
Hollyoaks does Hostel in this tame British torture porn effort.
Hollyoaks does Hostel in this weak but occasionally enjoyable British horror flick, with a group of university students being targeted by a vengeful nutcase. Loitering around the edge of the torture porn sub-genre, this is another below-par effort in a poor year for horror.
The story is a familiar one – a group of friends tease a geeky character a little too much at an end-of-term party, leading to an invitation to a party at his country estate. Arriving at the deserted party, they are greeted by the poor sap’s more charismatic brother Justin (David Oakes), and the true motivations for the gathering are soon revealed.
First off, the lack of originality really is difficult to look past when the film is played this straight – that six teenagers head to a cabin in the woods simply isn’t an acceptable set-up anymore, and the unlikable clichés (the slutty girl, the drug fiend, the hot-headed one) aren’t sent up anywhere near as much as they should be. One or two amusing directorial moments aside (a leering pan up the girls’ figures as they fill their car at a service station is worth a chuckle, and a creepy groundskeeper is superb), there is far too little here to mark Rob Heath’s film out as anything new in the current horror landscape.
Fumbled attempts at introducing some topical issues of class divide do nothing to enhance the experience, and the very fact that we are watching a 15 certificate torture porn film neuters the story from the beginning. There is simply not enough threat here, in terms of actual peril or of being forced to watch something unpleasant. The abysmal acting almost across the board does nothing to rescue this, as we simply aren’t given enough to care about when it comes to these characters.
The saving grace comes in Oakes’ villain – a sneery, malevolent presence, Justin is a blast to watch as he goes about his nasty business. A restrained anger drives the character, and it is fair to say that the Pillars of the Earth actor can come out of this lame effort with his head held high.
Towards the end, the film does recover some goodwill as it begins to play around with a few genre tropes, and a final reveal that is genuinely bold, but in a post-Cabin genre scene, this is simply too little, too late. Where Truth or Dare does occasionally work is as a light mystery, but far more often will raise a giggle entirely unintentionally. The clunky script, ludicrous character decisions and sheer unoriginality of the film make this a real six-pack film, but nothing more.