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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Double-dares and secret truths.

Truth or Dare (2018) on IMDb

Plot Overview

“Truth or Dare” opens with a car speeding down the highway, bearing California plates. It crosses the International Frontier out of Mexico. The driver pulls into a convenience store for a calming cigarette, but what­ever is chasing her is not stopped by a line on a map.

The scene changes to a college residence. Olivia Barron (Lucy Hale) is preparing to go on a Habitat for Humanity mission—“I'm a trip leader”—where she will be “building some­one's home during spring break.” Her best friend Markie Cameron (Violett Beane) wants to spend their break together. She reminds her of their pledge: “Between you and the world, I choose you.” That's not good enough for Olivia. However, aided by their four friends Lucas Moreno (Tyler Posey), Penelope Amari (Sophia Taylor Ali), Tyson Curran (Nolan Gerard Funk), and Brad Chang (Hayden Szeto) they'll negotiate to do two weeks of Habitat volunteer work with her later if she will come do “one week of spring break debauchery” with them now. They all head out together, destination Mexico—Where else? In a bar south of the border, they run into pool player Ronnie (Sam Lerner) whom they also know.

Olivia, a “pushover”, meets amiable Carter (Landon Liboiron) who invites them on a midnight excursion when they get bored. They trek up to an old abandoned mission where, against their better judgment, they follow Carter's suggestion to play a game of “truth or dare.” The game takes on a life of its own, follows them home from Mexico, and doesn't leave them with happy memories (“Half the people in this photo are now dead!”)—doesn't leave them at all, as a matter of fact.

The arc of the story follows the standard stuck-in-quicksand format: First is the ambling through the woods with nary a care in the world. Only the audience notices the Danger Quicksand sign covered with vines. Maybe the protagonist won't fall in. Oops!

Then comes the bulk of the story where she struggles to free herself, only making matters worse. Less and less of the girl is visible the more she struggles.

Finally comes the denouement. Maybe it's hopeless and she'll succumb. Maybe some­one hears her screams and comes to the rescue. Maybe the rope is too short or it breaks. Any of that happens and we're just left with emerging bubbles as witness to her ever being there. Or maybe in desperation she'll pull some­one else in, too.


From J.B. Mozley's sermon on Proverbs, I quote: “Let us not neglect the assistance of this great and remark­able book of the Proverbs of Solomon, but refresh our memories by turning to it from time to time; and endeavor to keep these sayings in our minds, to be a support to us when we need it. This book will imprint upon our minds the great truths of God's providence, and the profundity of God's judgment. It will teach us to look below the surface, to see signs and warnings where the vain and foolish do not see them, to give a meaning to a thousand daily events which we are apt to pass by with­out notice, and to look for a future verification of Divine justice when we are apt to test every­thing only by present pleasure and success. In this way this grave and weighty book of the Old Testament fits in with the lessons and revelations of the New” (104–5).

The first stressed-out scene of the fleeing woman reminds us of (Prov. 3:25-26) “Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” She seems to be devoid of God's peace à la John 14:27. This is just a marker for a starting point.

Continuing, (Prov. 3:27-28) “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” Olivia was committed to volunteer work for Habitat. It turned out to not be a good idea to put it off.

(Prov. 3:29) “Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee.” My Franklin Electronic Bible includes the note: “'secure': unsuspecting, off guard.” This would apply to Carter who “was dared to find a new group to play, and it had to be at the mission.” He reasoned, “I needed to find some­body with friends, that I could trick into coming here. I could tell Olivia was a push­­over. I brought you all up here, because I am okay with strangers dying if it means I get to live.”

That brings us to the New Testament and ultimately to an apostolic truth or dare. In the movie ToD some of the very uncomfortable truths exposed had to do with who was in love with whom. Like­wise, the apostle Paul allows a widow to marry any (eligible) man she wants to, just so she doesn't back­slide in the process (i.e. she remains in the Lord), (1Cor. 7:39) “if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” This allowance is despite Paul's reservation that she's better off as she is, (1Cor. 7:40) “But she is happier if she so abide, after my judg­ment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.” Many Christians (with the Spirit of God) will have their own reservations, that she marry within their denomination, or at least within the church at large. Never­the­less, with the open option, we suppose some widows will follow their hearts, which can lead to social stresses like those seen in the movie.

It's the “dare” side that makes this movie a thriller. (Acts 19:13-17) “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the LORD Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and over­came them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.” According to Tertullian a.d. 200: Soul's Testimony 1.3, “Only Christians can expel demons from people” (172). Such an incident being so well known in Ephesus, it would undoubtedly have reached the ears of the Corinthians and been recalled when Paul wrote to them to keep their corporate worship unmixed, (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” Paul used a couple of rhetorical questions that would have struck home but good: (2Cor. 6:15) “[For] what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” If those “vagabond Jews, exorcists” dare not attempt exorcism in the name of Jesus any more, then how can they be allowed to infiltrate the Corinthian services that Paul says should be unmixed? Like­wise, if the infidels the widows married (with Paul's permission) have so much trouble coming to church with their wives, as the Corinthians would have seen they have, why should any of their pagan practices be incorporated in the worship service?

In ToD the aged survivor Riss of the original Rosaritta Mission massacre explains to them that, “Demons possess people, places, objects, ideas.” It was one named Calex (voice of Gary Anthony Williams) who “possessed our games.” It was up to her originally to cast it out. According to Origen, a.d. 230, Against Celsus 3:36, “All angels, demons, and other unseen powers are subject to the name of Jesus” (150). And ibid. 7:4, “Every Christian, even new ones, have no problem casting out demons” (151). We assume Riss was a Christian as she was part of the mission. But did she use the name of Jesus? No, she resorted to some­thing else along the lines of, Justin Martyr a.d. 165 Dialogue 85, “Jewish exorcists make use of craft when they exorcise, even as the Gentiles do, employing fumigations and incantations” (171). Because of her mixed methods, the result some fifty years later turned out along the lines of, (Matt. 12:43-45) “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with him­self seven other spirits more wicked than him­self, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”

In Acts it was the nonchristians trying to use the name of Jesus; in ToD in was a Christian trying a pagan method. In both cases these mixtures didn't turn out so good.

Production Values

This teenage slasher movie, “” was directed by Jeff Wadlow. It was written by Jillian Jacobs, Michael Reisz, Christopher Roach, and Jeff Wadlow. It stars Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, and Violett Beane. The actors really pulled it off; they did quite well with a shallow scare plot.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for violence and disturbing content, alcohol abuse, some sexuality, language and thematic material. It made use of what the industry calls “the William Dafoe grin” to signal when the demon is talking through some­one. It worked for scares. There were various other facial distortions in play to mark demonic activity. The editing and photography all came together well.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

Basically, this one delivers what one would expect in quota of scares, but it also was a nice viewing experience in its own right. I don't think I shall, but I wouldn't mind seeing it again. If you want to pick a teenage slasher movie that won't disturb your day too much, this is the one. Pay attention to the philoso­phizing in order not to be blind­sided by the characters' decisions.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Special effects: Well done special effects. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, print.

Johnson Th.D., Ken. Ancient Church Fathers. USA 2010. Print.

Mozley D.D., J.B. Sermons Parochial and Occasional. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., 1880. Print.