Jamie Lee Curtis. Linnea Quigley. Shawnee Smith. Very few scream queens have taken the launch pad of being an actress and turned it into a feature film directing career, especially so early in their careers. Jessica Cameron has appeared in over thirty horror or science fiction related films. Recently, she has set her sights on directing with her debut, Truth or Dare. Cameron is beautiful and obviously one of the hardest working girls in the game, but can she direct well? Read my review of Truth or Dare to find out.
Truth or Dare is written and directed by Jessica Cameron along with Jonathan Higgins. Cast members include Ryan Kiser (Potpourri), Heather Dorff (What They Say), Shelby Stehlin (The Steam Experiment), Devanny Pinn (The Black Dahlia Haunting), Brandon Van Vliet (“One Night Stand”), Jesse Wilson (“The League of Ordinary Gamers”), and the director herself Jessica Cameron (Camel Spiders, Silent Night).
Truth or Dare follows the last episode recording by The Truth or Dare Devils. The group of six friends record dangerous, but fake, truth or dare bets and upload them onto the internet for fans to watch. After the startling success of their latest video, the Devils come face-to-face with their biggest fan, which ultimately crashes the party with the intent to make the web show have more integrity and realism…by any means necessary.
The film kicks off with a hilarious opening scene that sets the mood for the rest of the movie, or so you think. After a brief interlude Truth or Dare goes from 0 to 100 at the 11 minute mark and that’s when things go crazy. Literally you go from a Slumber Party Massacre themed conversation (jammies and all!) and in seconds blood and brains are splattered across the walls. This is only the beginning of the, “What just happened? What the Hell did I just watch?” moments and this film has two dozen of them!
Special effects were created by Carrie Mercado based on the bizarre, twisted ideas created by Cameron and Higgins. The blood looks as real as real can be (no pink koolaid!) and all the effects looked to have been made practically, which gets a huge thumbs up from me. Truth or Dare has lots of gun shots, lots of stabbing, glass eating, nipple cutting, eye gouging, and even vaginal renewal. It really is a sick flick that could make gore hounds cover their eyes once or twice. Is this movie torture porn? Maybe! But at least it all looks real enough to make you lose your breakfast. This is not a movie for the faint of heart!
From interviews I’ve seen with Jessica Cameron, she likes to be involved with projects that don’t go for the easy thrill and don’t use the fake scare tricks. This is something she has applied to her directing debut. While Truth or Dare relies heavily on blood and gore, it also contains a lot of character development and dialogue. Throughout the movie you learn a variety of elements about each character – dark secrets, biggest fears, wants and desires – and you begin to sympathize with them. Eventually, the script flips and you end up looking at the movie as if you were playing truth or dare. “Oh, my God. What if that was my sister? What if that was me?” Once you fall into that mindset then the film becomes a whole lot scarier.
All the actors in Truth or Dare are extremely talented and give believable performances. This is a rarity in indie film; having a cast that are all phenomenal and can evoke all the correct emotions at the drop of a hat. They all have a ton of chemistry, too. Casting director, I applaud you. Despite loving all of the performances, I do have to say that I enjoyed Heather Dorff and Jessica Cameron the most. This is the first time I’ve seen Ms. Dorff in a large role and I was thoroughly impressed. When it comes to Jessica, I’ve seen a ton of her previous films, but I actually saw growth as an actress in this title.
Thematically I think all of the six Dare Devils were written to represent a human characteristic that is stripped away when you are forced into a potentially deadly situation. Jon – outer strength. Tony – sense of humor. Courtney – sensuality. Ray – warmth. Michelle – dignity. Jennifer – the will to survive. Had they all survived longer, there is no way Derik could have succeeded because all of them together make up the traits of your typical survivor girl. Go, Go Power Rangers!
Speaking of themes, Truth or Dare deals with lies and backstabbing, the question of what you would be willing to do to survive, and the effects of violence on the human race, but I would say that the biggest central theme here is sexual depravity. Topics that are discussed include child rape and incest, and two of the kills are even related to brutality on the genitals. Sure, the previously mentioned themes come back to bite the characters in the ass, but the sexual depravity is what will really set the audience off. Two topics exist that will set off any movie goer – violence to animals and rape. No animals were killed in Truth or Dare (thank God!), but the sexual nature of the film is bound to piss off a lot of people. Again, this is not a movie for the faint of heart!
Jessica Cameron’s stomach churning directorial debut is the perfect example of a scream queen turned director done right. Whatever tricks of the trade she’s learned over the years from starring in horror films, she was able to harness and apply to the screen. I think back to Danielle Harris’ debut, Among Friends, and how much of a train wreck it was. Dare I say it, but Cameron’s ability as a director is far more revolting and masterful than directors who have been in the game much, much longer.
I only have two complaints. My first complaint is that there wasn’t a lot of scenery changes, but I do understand that had to be done for story purposes. My second complaint is that one of the characters play a transgendered person and it’s just not believable because they are way too attractive as they are!
Truth or Dare is the best directorial debut by any female film maker in the year 2013. Truth or Dare is the best torture flick that we’ve seen in years. Truth or Dare is brutal, bloody, and twisted, truly sinister; not for the average horror fan. The squeamish will squirm, the brave will be chilled to the bone, and your nightmares are bound to be stained with blood…even if you don’t make it to the end of the movie. This gets a 10 out of 10 rating from me, guys! It’s currently making the rounds at various film festivals so there is the opportunity to see it now. Go see it. Now. I dare you.