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But How Gay is ‘Truth or Dare’?

In “But How Gay Is It?”, we seek to answer the biggest questions you have about a new movie release in theaters now including, most crucially, the titular question. Does the movie have any queer characters? Are there stories involving same-sex lovers? Which gay icons star in the film? We’re bringing you all that and more.

What is Truth or Dare?

Imagine playing Truth or Dare, except the game never ends. It follows you around, with illusions and hallucinations asking you the question. You have to answer, and complete the task, or else you die. Dramatic, no? Well, thanks to an ill-advised trip to an old mission in Mexico, a group of college friends are haunted by such a game. And the dying part is no joke. The film comes from Blumhouse, the production company that’s given us such horror gems as Get Out and Happy Death Day. And yet Well, we’ll get back to that.

Who’s in it?

Lucy Hale is Olivia, the film’s nice-girl lead who accidentally gets the whole crew involved with the game. Tyler Posey plays Lucas, her love interest who happens to be dating her best friend, Markie (Violett Beane). Whoops! The cast is otherwise rounded out by young actors, but special mention goes to former Awkward asshole Nolan Gerard Funk, who is very good at playing a privileged jerk, and The Edge of Seventeen sweetheart Hayden Szeto, who plays the friend group’s resident gay, Brad.

Why should I see it?

Oh my god, you shouldn’t! Don’t see this movie.

I really don’t like to so specifically ward against seeing something, because I think that people have different taste. What’s fun and enjoyable to me may not be your cup of tea and vice versa. I make an exception to this rule when I think the movie was made with no good intent.

What do you mean, no good intent?

I walked out of my screening annoyed with the movie, confused as to why such a simple premise led to a movie with so many plot holes and poorly written characters. A clean canvas should make the painting process easier, not more convoluted. Then, while just scrolling through my Twitter feed, I saw a Vulture article about the origins of the film. From their story:

“Truth or Dare? was pitched to Blumhouse head Jason Blum by Universal’s co-president of worldwide marketing, Michael Moses, as nothing more than a title. Moses had no plot, no director, no star, no storyboards just those three little words.”

This is not how movies should be made! I don’t want to sound like a panicky purist, but this is literally reverse-engineering a story from a title. This is how we get stuff like Battleship, designed to make money off a recognizable name. Who cares about the plot when you’ve got a marketable title? The end result bears this out: The story feels held together with some paper clips, with characters acting irrationally to advance the plot and the logic of the Truth or Dare game falling apart at the smallest bit of examination. Going to see Truth or Dare? is supporting lazy, money-grab filmmaking, and I cannot in good conscience recommend it.

But how gay is it?

It’s the kind of movie that has a gay man of color as a key supporting character, only to kill him off in a way directly related to his sexuality and his tormented relationship with his father (said to be homophobic, though we never see any proof of that on-screen). Also, it’s the kind of movie that will show him kissing a man for half a second, but will show much more of two female friends making out.

In other words: It’s got some gay factor, yes. But it’s bad to and for the gays, which makes it not very gay at all.

I get that the movie wasn’t made for the right reasons. But is it fun-bad?

Absolutely not. And I know fun-bad. I love fun-bad. I adore Obsessed and have watched The Boy Next Door more times than I can count. Hell, I’ve watched every episode of Smash three times. Truth or Dare? can’t hold a candle. It’s poorly made horror I didn’t count one jump-scare, of which there are plenty attempted, that actually succeeded in making my audience jump or scared.

And again, I want to emphasize that the game makes no sense. A movie like this doesn’t need to be realistic, but it needs to make sense in its own world. To draw a comparison to Happy Death Day, another Blumhouse production: That movie’s plot, while absurd, is coherent. That’s an example of silly horror that nonetheless does the work of giving the audience a sensical film.

Anything else you wanna get off your chest? Well. Do you mind a spoiler?

No, spoil away. The ending involves Olivia and Markie realizing that the game will never end, and cursing everyone else in the world with a viral YouTube video. That’s it. That’s the big finale. The curse is passed to everyone, and now people everywhere will die because of it. Which flies directly in the face of how Olivia answers a moral dilemma in the first 20 minutes of the film.

Ugh, what a terrible movie. Truth or Dare? is in theaters now, if you somehow still want to see it.


Kevin O'Keeffe

Kevin O'Keeffe is a writer and 'RuPaul's Drag Race' herstorian. He covers film and TV for INTO, and writes the movie review column "But How Gay Is It?" every Friday.

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