My Own Personal Hell-oween: Day One (Truth Or Dare)

So it’s a Halloween tradition for me to live-blog a horror franchise every year. In the past, I’ve done Nightmare On Elm Street, Scream, Child’s Play, Saw, and Final Destination. Now I’ve wanted to do Halloween for a long time, but because the final one of the new trilogy isn’t out until next year that means I will have to delay it. There are similar issues with other horror franchises, and with some there’s the trouble of actually getting hold of them, I’m not paying full price for some films which I know will be terrible so unless I can get them on discount or they become available online I won’t bother (hello Leprachaun). So for this year I’ve decided to do something a bit strange. In 2018 I switch focus for this site and instead of “a post a week” I went with the much more insane “review EVERYTHING” which I’ve done since then. If I keep that up until January it will be four years of doing that, which is weird when you think about it. So I’ve decided to commemorate this by doing this project; where I will live-blog a horror film from each year that I’ve been reviewing. Now I could do it with good films, and fall in love with them all over again. But that’s not as fun (Side note: “too good to live-blog” is what stopped me going with Fear Street trilogy for this year, which was one of my original ideas). Nope, I’m going with terrible ones. In some cases these will be the worst film I saw that year. It might not (I genuinely have no idea what films I’m doing for this, and won’t until I start them).

So I’m going to start with 2018, the options were:

Winchester

Secret Of Marrowbone

For some reason my brain bundles those two films together. Instead of those I’m going with something truly awful, a film which I’m not entirely sure why it exists, but it does, and we have to suffer. So here goes: Truth Or Dare

  • First off, this is a PG-13 film, which is always a good sign for a horror movie.
  • A woman buys cigarettes scary voice in Mexico.
  • The guy behind the counter answers the phone and is compelled to ask her “Truth Or Dare”. He then hangs the phone up on the counter, which is weird because he answered it from the wall. In the next shot she’s setting fire to the building, so she’s obviously chosen dare. I mean, Truth would have been better surely as he’s a stranger so no harm telling him many things. I haven’t seen this film since I watched it at the cinema, so I don’t know how they work around the “everybody would just chose truth”. I think there was a “no x Truths in a row” rule implemented. Which is clearly just the film-makers trying to close a loophole that is clearly far too open for the film to work without closing it.
  • Oh she’s not burning the building, she’s burning someone. Logic dictates it will be the store clerk, as he’s the only person we’ve seen before. But nope, it’s a woman we don’t know. Why didn’t we start the film focused on her, have her walk into the building, THEN have Giselle (who’s the firestarter, the twisted firestarter) appear and set fire to her? Have it come out of nowhere. That way it turns the death not just into a “aaaa spooky death” but into a “oh no, I really didn’t want that character to die, I was JUST getting to know them”.
  • We’re introduced to Olivia, played by Lucy Hale, talking about the joys of building houses for people and how good it will make you feel. Something about that seems so insincere.
  • We’re then introduced to Markie, who in her first scene tells Olivia that she cancelled her “Habitat For Humanity” project so that they could all get drunk together on Spring Break (woo).
  • I hope Markie dies early on because she reminds me too much of someone from certain “movies”, and I won’t be able to shake that.
  • They managed to convince her to go by saying that the four of them (oh yeah, two other people turned up) will build homes this summer if she comes with them. So if they’re ALL going to be free for two weeks that summer, why not go then? Is it because it’s not SPRING BREAK WOOOO? If so, that’s kind of a pathetic thing. It’s one of those things that I see referenced in US TV shows all the time but I just don’t get. Along with: Sweeps, Arbor Day (or considering how they pronounce Herb could it be harbour day?), not wearing white after a certain day, and how going bankrupt so you can afford insulin is actually a good thing really and anybody who tells you otherwise is a dirty communist antifa gay muslim atheist.
  • And now a few more people have joined up. I can’t be bothered to learn their names though.
  • We then get a montage of them drinking in Mexico and “having fun”. But it’s PG-13 fun, so while they’re drinking they’re not really being “drunk”, they’re not peeing anywhere, not really stumbling, or vomiting. They’re just going “wooo I’m drunk”. Stupid rating. There is an “uncut” version which adds like 30 seconds, most of that added stuff is just the cast drinking alcohol. Because obviously in a film about death and curses, you can’t show people drinking alcohol.
  • “youtube are for volunteer stuff, snapchats are for fun” Not my snapchat.
  • Olivia pulls Markie away from a guy she was dancing with, who keeps dancing almost like he didn’t notice she wasn’t there anymore. It wasn’t even full on grinding.
  • A douche called Ronnie comes up, I think he’s supposed to be drunken dickhead normally played by a jock in films, but in this he’s played by a guy who looks like he would normally be the nerd in an 80s film.
  • A Daniel Radcliffe motherfucker turns up (Carter) who then buys Olivia a drink. And I notice that it’s really difficult to film bar scenes well as since Olivia is standing up the bar almost comes to her neck and it makes her look tiny compared to everybody else in the scene who is sitting down and leaning on the bar.
  • Carter suggests a place they can all go to continue the party. “it’s a bit of trek”. If they were really all that drunk, I imagine trekking across a rocky terrain would result in more injuries than it does. None of them seem drunk at all.
  • They start drinking from a cooler of beers that was in the church. Because obviously you can trust drinks you find lying around, it’s fine guys, they were put there by Carter, you know, the guy you all just met five minutes ago.
  • Ronnie’s turned up, he followed them. They all just accept it. There must have been a more natural way to get him there. Just have him tag along from the bar. Having him follow them, in the dark, with NONE of them noticing just seems stupid.
  • “you can’t keep Ron-Ron from a party”. It’s true, that’s a scientific fact. Newton’s Douche Law.
  • “Truth or dare, it’s a game where you can expose your friends deepest secrets” I imagine if they’re keeping deep secrets from you, it’s probably for a reason.
  • “make them do things they don’t want to” Seems a little rapey.
  • “that actually does sound kind of interesting” nope, still sounds super fucking rapey.
  • The first Truth is “aliens either kill everybody in this room, or the whole of Mexico”. A bit dark. That would not be the first question you ask in a drunken truth or dare as it would kill the mood. You’d ask something fun or flirty. This is only there because Olivia chooses Mexico because “I’d risk my friends lives to save millions” comes back at the ending in the stupidest fucking way ever.
  • “are you aware that Olivia is in love with your boyfriend?” These people fucking suck at this game. Every truth is just passive aggressive questions to divide everyone.
  • “I dare you to stop selling prescriptions to freshmen”. Aren’t those dares normally “do something now”. Not “improve your life”. What’s next? “I dare you to stop drinking and start applying yourself in school”
  • “Maybe I’m bi-curious” after that weak-ass kiss? Nah.
  • Carter is asked “what are your intentions with Olivia?” and he admits he targeted her because she was obviously a pushover and he needed someone to bring friends with them to play Truth Or Dare with because he doesn’t mind strangers dying if he gets to live. He then runs off but not before telling Olivia that if you break the rules (or lie) you die. I’ve watched enough Taskmaster lately to realise that he could have answered that and kept to the rules if he just said “To play Truth Or Dare with”. That way the game could have continued longer.
  • “remind me again why I didn’t go to school thousands of miles away from my overbearing and homophobic father?” Probably so you have an excuse to get that clunky dialogue out there. Although I have to say this is probably the best character work in the movie.
  • Markie is watching a video of her dad, which can only mean he’s dead. She bursts into Olivia’s room causing a jump scare. A weird jump scare actually as we get the bang, and then the door slowly opens.
  • “ever since my dad killed himself” oh good, the exposition fairy has arrived.
  • “You know what, you’re crazy, but I happen to like crazy so do you want to go for a drink?” I can’t imagine that working.
  • Oh man I forgot the Truth Or Dare filter. Okay so basically a lot of people in this film get this weird thing on their face which just looks stupid. It looks like a bad snapchat filter.
  • “Markie is constantly cheating on Lucas” damn Olivia, you’re in a library, use your indoor voice.
  • “I just want to show you my pool cue, by which I mean my penis”. So subtle.
  • We get the filter, and Ronnie doesn’t notice the weirdness of the face so just jumps up on the table when she dares him to take out his penis.
  • The filter appears on Ronnie’s face, indicating he’s “possessed”, whilst possessed he purposely walks on a pool ball which causes him to fall breaking his neck. First off: NOBODY noticed the weird face, or the distortion on his voice. Secondly: why was that needed? Either have it appear naturally Final Destination style, or (and what I would have done) have someone else be possessed and roll a ball on the table which he trips on.
  • “so they made you tell everyone that Markie is a cheating whore?” Are these people actually friends? Because it doesn’t seem like they are.
  • The group (except Markie the whore) are all sent the video of Ronnie dying. Who sent that to them? I know these characters are awful, and I know some people would film it. But why would they send that around? At most you’d post it online. Also, who sent it to them all? One of them seemed to have been sent it by Beth, but did she just group text a death video? Bit weird. Also the video is way too high a quality to be believable, and weirdly the only audio we get is Ronnie talking, we get zero background noise, in a busy bar.
  • Oh, Lucas wasn’t there either. I know that because he’s arrived there now. Which says everything about how well-developed the characters are.
  • Lucas slowly and painfully gets the words “Truth Or Dare” carved onto his arm, which then disappears almost immediately. No blood. Just slight grazing by the looks of it.
  • Lucas gets asked “How do you feel about Olivia” and goes on a long poetic spiel about how he likes her, on the phone to her. He could have just said it after muting the microphone. Still would have counted.
  • “I tried to ignore the question and it ended up burnt into my arm” oh it was burnt, not cut. That’s actually lamer. Also, what the hell demon ghost thingy? He ignored it once and ended up in physical pain whilst Olivia ignores it for over a day and nothing?
  • “you ruined my relationship!” There’s actually a very simple way to make sure that nobody tells your boyfriend not to cheat on him. A very very simple way. Place a curse on the truth so that anybody who tells it commits suicide. Or don’t cheat. I suppose that works too.
  • “You can’t be alone, your turn is next”. The very next second she gets a text asking her truth or dare. This demon ghost has got great timing.
  • She gets dared to break Olivia’s hand, and goes from “I don’t believe this is real” to hitting her with a hammer very quickly. All it took was one sentence “You’re a coward just like your dad”. Again, are these people actually friends? And how come she didn’t get killed for saying no and delaying?
  • Brad is next, and gets dared to tell his (homophobic) dad that he’s gay. This could be an incredibly tense scene where we get to see the fear that he feels about telling him, we’d see his fathers reaction in real time, and how Brad would react to his fathers reaction. But nope, it all happens off screen so we get none of that. Incredibly poor decision not to show that.
  • “that’s another $1,000 in credit card debt” That sentence being said as a response to a broken hand is the scariest thing in this movie.
  • His friends reactions to him coming out to his dad are basically “meh”. Like they don’t get how big a deal that is. They don’t comfort him at all, they just say “he didn’t know?”
  • Tyson next. You know, the forgettable white guy. He’s the not-yet doctor who has been selling medication to teens.
  • He gets Truth Or Dared by a woman interviewing him. He lies, jams a pen is his eye, then headbutts a wall killing him. It’s a strange mix of blood-filled and tame, probably because the blood we see we only see under the door.
  • “Did you try using google?” oh, what a brilliant idea, I never would have thought to have searched for someone using google. What a brilliant mind you have.
  • We see the opening scene with the fire, this time from security footage. So we’re reeseeing what we saw earlier, her interaction with the clerk. See, if the opening scene was from the perspective of the woman set on fire, this would be a reveal. Especially if we didn’t see who set the fire, it would have meant that when we first met Carter we would have guessed it was him who set the fire, then this would have revealed that the game has more people in than we thought. As it is she was just forgotten about for over 40 minutes.
  • “I know the game dared you to set that woman on fire” okay, and what was next dare? It’s gone through this entire group in a loop since then, so she must have had to do something.
  • “screw you!” Couldn’t even say fuck. What the frick?
  • Someone (I genuinely can’t remember her name) is dared to walk around the roof of the house while drunk. Now, if she failed the dare, would that count as not doing it?
  • Okay her name is Pen.
  • The group walk around the exterior of the house with a mattress to catch her if she falls, but they then get trapped by a fence blocking their way. It’s their house, did they forget they have a fence? It’s their house.
  • She finishes the bottle of vodka she has to drink and then falls off the roof. Yay she beat the dare.
  • I would remove all the bad things I have said about this movie if she just straight up fucking died from alcohol poisoning right now.
  • She doesn’t. In fact she seems to have sobered up by the time they go to meet Giselle.
  • Oh so now Pen dies, she jumps in front of a bullet fired by Giselle and meant for Olivia. Well I say “jump”, she kind of walked into it, kind of looked like Olivia pulled her in front of her to be honest.
  • Since that happened, she failed the dare, and Giselle is forced to kill herself. Thus ending her screen time incredibly quickly and making me wonder what the point of her was.
  • Markie and Lucas share an awkward glance. Side note, this film has not really brought up how they are reacting to each other now. She cheated on him, he knows, so what is their deal now? We don’t know. Such a waste, there’s almost no tension between them now, almost like the relationship didn’t matter at all.
  • “he didn’t know where the was” wait, the possessed homeless guy was confused? Shocking!
  • Olivia and Lucas are dared to have sex. Lucas is then dared mid-coitus to admit who he really loves. Which is Markie. This is bound to create tension between Lucas and Olivia, this changes EVERYTH-oh wait, nope they’re not interacting like normal.
  • Markie is asked by her dead dad why she keeps the gun he used to kill himself. What exactly was painful about her admitting that? There was nobody there. Was it just so we could find out that she has thought of using it on herself? Almost definitely. Oh, and probably so we can reference the gun.
  • What happened to that Habitat for Humanity thing? I feel that could have come back in a good way. Have a truth based on that somewhere.
  • “But the priest who ran the convent liked to play his own game. He let us hide but then he took the one he found”. Ah, that old game Hide and Child Rape. Good thing the church doesn’t have any sexual assault issues anymore.
  • “we suffered in silence, then one of the girls summoned a demon named Calux” Typical teen, can’t sort their own problem out, always summoning a demon to do their stuff for them.
  • “Wait, how did you and the others escape?” you have to write the answer? You didn’t expect that to be their first question? Did it take you an hour to write that whole thing? It was like 3 pages.
  • “we sealed the demon in a pot” and then just left the pot there? Didn’t think it was worth keeping an eye on it so nobody could damage it? If you have a demon in a jar, you keep hold of the jar so nobody could break it, surely?
  • “the demon was released and possessed their game of truth or dare” why didn’t it just possess the person who broke it? Also, why wasn’t this woman involved in the game once it restarted?
  • “We have no idea who Sam is”. How have you not figured out that Sam is Carter? Damn you’re stupid.
  • Brad is dared to steal his dads gun and make him beg for his life. Obviously this results in him getting shot. I’m not sure what the demon wants, does it want people to die, or does it want them to play the game? The motives aren’t clear at all. Also, there’s no indication that their relationship was changed by Brad coming out to his dad. So what was the point of that?
  • Markie’s dad attempted to rape Olivia, and that’s why he killed himself. A smart film would let this moment linger, this film moves straight on and has Markie leave.
  • “I told him you’d be better off if he was dead”, damn, that’s how you kill a friendship. And a friends dad too I guess.
  • Why exactly is Olivia being questioned by police? This is Final Destination all over again, the deaths are all treated as accidents in universe. From the police POV: Brad stole his fathers gun and threatened to shoot him, then got killed by another officer. Olivia wasn’t there when it happened, joining the moment halfway through. So what exactly do they think happened that makes her guilty?
  • The police have a weird amount of detail on who was playing the game. Evidently Sam and Giselle registered their game of Truth Or Dare with the international Truth Or Dare league.
  • “Am I being charged?” “not yet” “okay then I’m going”. Yup, that’s totally how it works. The police just let you walk away from them all the time.
  • “Carter is Sam” oh no, what a complete surprise that was in no way predictable.
  • “Three of my best friends are dead because of you”. Hang on: 1) Tyson with the pen in the eye. 2) Giselle being shot. 3) Brad shot by police. 4) Ronnie. I get he’s probably not counting Ronnie as a friend, but bit harsh to leave him out. Of course if he said “Four of my best friends are dead” then I would have pointed out how they weren’t friends with Ronnie. So really this film can’t win.
  • Side note: I had to actually read the synopsis to count the dead bodies, which is good as I completely forgot Tyson.
  • “Try me, I dare you!” Eugh, I audibly sighed there
  • “Say it seven times” Good thing I’m not in this film as I’d say “it, it, it, it, it, it, it”. I’m such a dick.
  • You would have thought the ritual for trapping a demon would be much simpler so that demons can’t win so easily. It’s like the good guys don’t want demons to be captured.
  • Actually who came up with the ritual? Who decided that was the only way to capture that demon?
  • “why did you choose dare?” “so you guys would be able to pick truth” But you’re JUST about to end it. Choose truth and just take your time answering and this film is over (that’s good) and you all get to live (that’s bad).
  • “you’re such an idiot” you all are.
  • “I will murder everyone you’ve ever known” Is that a promise? Hah, sucks to be you Mr. Fluffkin my fifth year maths teacher.
  • Olivia uploads a video onto youtube of her asking the audience Truth Or Dare. So the happy ending is that the entire world is doomed but Olivia and Markie have a delayed death. Yaaaaaaay mass deaths. Also, that’s not how that game works surely? Surely you need to consent to play it? You can’t just say “truth or dare” and then they’re automatically part of the game, right? Otherwise Carter/Sam’s dare to find new people to play would have been a lot fucking easier. Also, how does that work in terms of timing? Like what order does it go in?
  • To summarise: Olivia’s character arc is that she learns it’s okay to kill the entire world if your friend gets to live a little longer. Yay?
  • FINALLY it’s over.
  • Long time readers of this site will know that I will forgive a bad film if it’s obviously made with passion. I like when a film obviously has that “The writer/director” NEEDED to make this film” feel to it. This film was based on the title. The writer was told “Make a film based on Truth Or Dare” and came up with this. That feeling of “will this do?” permeates the entire film and makes it feel weak as hell.
  • Personally I wouldn’t have made it supernatural. Have a guy kidnap people and force them to play it in a locked location. Alternatively, have it in a haunted house. But importantly, keep it to one location. You need that tenseness to it. If the whole thing took place in a single location, possibly in real time, you’d have something unique and terrifying.

2018 In Film Part 1: The Bad

Okay, the title is oversimplifying it a lot. These are just films I didn’t like, some aren’t necessarily bad, but were more a victim of hype. There’s going to be a few (and I can guess which ones) which a lot of people will disagree with, but taste is subjective so here goes, if you disagree, let us know with which ones. How I chose what to go in this was simple: these are the films that even if they were on tv and I had nothing to watch, I’d unplug my television and leave the house just so I don’t accidentally watch it. Oh, and there’s plenty of spoilers, so, be wary of that. In alphabetical order because, well how the darn else would I do it?

Breaking In

I see what they were trying to do. But it didn’t really work for me. The script really let it down, as did the directing. If this was a made-for-tv movie it would have been fine, but it really lacked the finesse needed for a wide cinematic release. If I didn’t have a list, I would have completely forgot I saw this film, it left no impression on me.

Original review here

+Gabrielle Union is fantastic in it.

-It looks flat and dull. Everything looks simple. Potential for stand-out scenes, ones which really stick with you, this potential is not lived up to.

The Commuter 

Have you seen a Liam Neeson film? Then you’ve seen this. Really standard fare with nothing new to it.

Original review here

+It does what it does well.

-But you’ve seen it all before.

The Darkest Minds

Similar to The Commuter. Nothing here hasn’t been done before, and done better. I was especially disappointed by it because when I first saw the trailer I thought it was some kind of X-Men body horror film, and not only was it not that, it was this. Incredibly bland, the kind of film you forget about very quickly after leaving the cinema. The best YA movie of 2000’s (just a shame it came out in 2018).

Original review here

+The intended audience will probably love it.

-A romance story where the romance doesn’t really work

Downsizing

Oh dear this was a mess. Way too long, It doesn’t make the most of the concept. Every single choice the story takes seems to be the wrong one, and we end up following possibly the most bland character in the movie. It has a lot of potential and briefly flirts with great ideas; the idea that a government is forcibly shrinking dissidents for example is a dream for a dystopian nightmare. In this, it’s used to cause a romance plot.

Original review here

+Hong Chau. Everything about her, her performance, her character, everything about it is fantastic. Shame she’s not the main character as her story is much better than the one we actually got.

-So much wasted potential.

capture7
Although it does win the award for “most random appearance from a cast member of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

The Equalizer 2

Did you like the first one? Then you probably won’t like this tbh. You know how sometimes a film is really successful and becomes a franchise? Each film seems progressively less like the ethos of the original, and then by the fifth one it seems to just have a slight essence of the original. Like the characters are there, but the motivations are completely different and make no sense. That’s what this one is like, like the 4th sequel to a film.

Original review here

+The sound editing. Weird thing to praise but just like the first one, it’s superb in that department.

-Waaaaay too many sub-plots.

Father Figures

This film could be on netflix right now, in fact it probably is. I wouldn’t know as I hope to never ever see it again. Everything about it seems like it was made in the 90s. It had no nuance, no cleverness, really nothing to recommend.

Original review here

+Katie Aselton’s character shares a great scene with Ed Helms, full of warmth and joy and cosiness.

-Completely pointless. I can’t imagine it being someones life ambition to make this.

The Happytime Murders

Oh dear. I really wanted to like this. It looked like it would be funny, subversive, and incredibly different to anything else. It’s none of those things. The jokes are all waaaaay too obvious, and most of them aren’t even really relevant to the film, they could be put in almost any cop film. It doesn’t do enough with the premise. And I don’t say this often, but this film would have been much better as a musical.

Original review here

+Some very funny moments.

-Nowhere near enough, and the rest of the jokes are very “first draft” ones which should have been improved. Note to the writers; just having puppets either say “fuck” or do fucks, doesn’t equal a joke.

Red Sparrow

Yup, this film existed this year. It has naked Jennifer Lawrence, was released this year, yet when was the last time you heard it being talked about? There’s a reason for that, it’s painfully dull with a script that is not as clever as it thinks it is, or as it needs to be for this genre. The dialogue is the the epitome of “telling, not showing” and despite it being over 2 hours long, barely anything about it will stay with you.

Original review here

+An effective throwback to a genre that doesn’t really exist any more

-For good reason.

The Secret Of Marrowbone

A film so bland I actually skipped past it in the list. A mess of genres which didn’t work at all, and had way too many twists. Having just one of them would have made it a much better film

Original review here

+Some good ideas. And one of the twists is really good.

-Uneven in terms of genre. Has no idea what type of film it is.

Truth Or Dare

I read reviews of this before I saw it, calling it one of the worst horror films they’ve seen in a while. “surely it can’t be that bad?” I thought, wrongly. Nothing about it works, it’s too sanitised, too poorly scripted, and you don’t give a shit about the characters. The same mistakes a lot of bad modern horror films make, really.

Original review here

+REALLY good performances. Like, REALLY good.

-That ending.

Tully

This is a film a lot of people will fall in love with. It just wasn’t for me. The characters didn’t appeal to me (and in some cases actively annoyed me), there were too many moments which seemingly were there to pad out the plot, and the ending will either entrance you or annoy me, it annoyed me.

Original review here

+Some of the dialogue is very funny.

-“that person is a figment of your imagination” endings just make me annoyed.

Winchester

Wanted to like this, I love Helen Mirren (as everybody does). It was just really boring though. Too many scenes which weren’t needed, and the scares were repetitive and stopped being effective the third time they did the same one.

Original review here

+FANTASTIC premise. Deserving of a much better film.

-Doesn’t make the most of the premise. Entirely forgettable.

 

 

Tully (2018)

I had no idea what this film was about. I hadn’t even seen a poster. I assume a lot of you will be in the same boat so here goes: it’s about a couple who have just welcomed their third child (one of whom has an unmentioned disorder similar to autism, for drama) into the world and the mother is knackered, so they hire a night nanny so she can get some sleep. The night nanny is a young, confident go-getter who speaks slightly pretentiously (think Juno, and not just because Diablo Cody wrote both) and teaches the mother the real meaning of……sleep? I don’t know. I get it, a lot of people are going to like this film, personally, I didn’t. It’s not that it wasn’t a good film, it’s just such a personal story, but not one that engaged me personally. As such the things I would otherwise not mind, suddenly became huge problems for me. The adults who were speaking like pretentious movie teenagers just seemed really annoying and unrealistic. The one-scene characters who were just there to create conflict just made me think it was a waste of time. Actually, there’s a lot of waste in here. Infinity War was long, but it made those minutes count, almost every scene was needed. I can’t think of many scenes from that film where if you didn’t take them out, it wouldn’t make the film slightly less incoherent either in terms of story or character building. This is the opposite, it’s a lot shorter, but there’s more waste. In fact, I’d say there’s more waste than content. There are so many scenes here where if you cut them, it wouldn’t affect the movie at all, they’re that inconsequential, which, for a film that’s only just over 90 minutes long, is a terrible indicator. It’s the sign of screenwriting fluff (and trust me, if there’s anybody who knows about screenwriting fluff, it’s me, it’s my bread and butter, and black pudding, and sausages, and beans, and *checks word count* bacon, and eggs, and tomatoes and now I’m hungry).

Also the ending. It’s not quite as bad as Truth Or Dare, but it’s the kind of ending which you’ll either love or hate, I was not a fan. Mainly because I don’t think it earned it. It tries to be clever with a twist, but it just feels kind of cheap and doesn’t even provide a pleasing “aha!” scene. THAT’S what makes a great twist ending, that specific moment where a character in the film, and thereby the audience pieces it all together. Think of that scene in The Usual Suspects where you finally find out who it is, or the “where do you think we are?” scene from Scrubs. The entire ending could be summed up in that one moment, that’s the “wham” scene, where you marvel at the brilliance of it all. This doesn’t really do that, it just provides lots of little things in quick succession, so it means we don’t have that glorious memorable moment, to the point where I’m not entirely sure everybody in the screen I was in got what happened. Actually, I know they didn’t, as I overheard people’s discussions as they were leaving.

There’s no way to discuss this without actually saying what the ending is so here goes (spoiler warning): the night nanny she hired doesn’t exist and is a figment of the main character’s imagination, she’s imagining a younger version of her. It’s narratively unsatisfying and asks more questions than it answers. Specifically; what happened to the actual nanny then? It wasn’t ordered by her, her brother said he’ll pay for it and get it organised etc. It’s mentioned to him that they now have a night nanny, and he doesn’t respond “Well let me know the costs and I’ll cover it”, or “so when you order one it’s fine yet you refuse mine? What the fuck?” Or even “Where from?”. It’s just kind of frustrating. Which is a shame as there are some things to like in this, Charlize Theron is outstanding as always, she just throws herself into every character and it’s superb to see. Some of the dialogue will definitely cause a chuckle (although there are moments where the dialogue is written in a way that you’re reminded it’s a movie because it seems so fake), and the soundtrack is pretty damn cool as well. It’s just a shame it never really clicked for me. I think that’s the main flaw, I didn’t personally click with it, and I felt I should have. Which meant its flaws annoyed me more than it should, and the good things didn’t hit as much as they should.

Truth Or Dare (2018)

The ending to this film is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen, and I once witnessed a guy fall over trying to kick a pigeon.

The ending to this film is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen, and I once witnessed a guy try to start a fight with a bus. Not the people on the bus, the bus itself.

The ending to this film is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen myself run this joke into the ground long after it stopped being funny

So yeah, I was not a fan of the ending. That’s the thing with horror, as a genre you really need to nail the ending otherwise it clouds the entire experience of the film. A lot of my hatred for both The Gallows and Unfriended is based around how poorly they executed the ending, both of them had great potential endings, but they then kept going. It’s hard to close a horror movie though, you need people to leave being scared, but you have to balance that with providing narrative closure, and usually, it’s the closure that suffers through the use of last-second jump scares and “the killer is still alive”, and if the ending doesn’t provide a satisfactory closure then it can feel like the entire film was a massive waste of time, like the entire thing was a prequel to a film that might not even happen. Side note: if you’re a fan of terrible movie endings, check out The Devil Inside, bad endings are one thing, but that film doesn’t even have an ending, it just stops and tells you to check out the website. So as you can tell, I’ve seen a lot of bad endings in films, especially horror, but rarely have I seen a film fuck up the closing stretch so badly. Part of me wants to spoil it so I can talk about it more, but part of me also thinks you need to see it so you can realise how badly they messed it up. The characters were mostly unlikeable to begin with, and the end of the film is basically them potentially causing the death of every single person on the planet, and it’s played off like this was the right and moral thing to do.

I mean, it wasn’t exactly the greatest film before that. As I said before, the characters were almost completely detestable and annoying, and because of the 15 rating their deaths aren’t even as satisfying as they could be. They’re not inventive enough either, the Final Destination series was great at the “seemingly co-incidental deaths” set pieces, that kind of approach would be great here as a way to kill people (people die if they refuse to do the dare, or if they lie). The first time we see this is pretty unique, a guy pulls out of his dare, and slips on a pool ball, breaking his neck. But even this shows a few problems which plague the rest of the film. For one thing, the person affected has a weird smile which I think is supposed to be creepy, but just looks like a weird snapchat filter. This makes it obvious they are not in control of their actions, which make it not as fun, it would be a lot more fun if they died as themselves due to the universe being set up that way just in case they failed, as it is it just means they get possessed and commit suicide, and nobody notices the physically impossible smile on their face and weird tone in their voice.

It’s not all bad though, it does have some neat ideas, albeit they don’t really do anything with those ideas. It occasionally seems like a satire about the notion of internet fame/infamy and the fine line between the two, but it’s so underdeveloped I’m not entirely sure it’s deliberate. One of the subplots about a homosexual character being scared to come out to his strict father also shows promise, but is never really realised. Imagine if when his truth was “come out to your father”, that even with the threat of death he still couldn’t do it? And then the father found out why he died and is forever haunted by his behaviour towards his son in the past. That would make it a lot more powerful, haunting and depressing.

One last thing, the performances. Oh my science, the performances. Horror has a (deserved) reputation for occasionally having (how can I put this diplomatically?), let’s say, less than stellar performances from actors, all really obvious fake screams and performances which somehow are a mix of overacting and underacting. And this film? The performances in this………are really fucking good. Hayden Szeto (from the incredibly underknown Edge Of Seventeen) is all kinds of great in this, giving his character the emotional depth and nuance that the script doesn’t. Lucy Hale plays her character like a slightly broken bird, and it works. Landon Liboiron deserves to be the smug asshole villain in a spy movie. There’s not really a weak link in the performances here, a magnificent ensemble cast who are giving it there all, it’s just a shame the script didn’t.