The Dare starts off with a great cold open. Jay (Bart Edwards) is getting his kids ready for bed when a masked intruder invades the home. Jay wakes up in a room with three other strangers, each of them tethered to the wall by a single corded handcuff. Who was the attacker? Why are the four trapped in this room together? These questions are interrupted as their burly captor (Robert Maaser) breaks the monotony by coming in to demand they torture one another. In writer-director Giles Alderson’s The Dare, the audience is made to reconcile the past and the present. It makes for a surprisingly good thriller.
As the four victims piece things together, we reach to the past for the B-plot. Here we see a boy named Dom (Mitchell Norman) at an RV campsite with his parents who aren’t exactly getting along. Dom is wandering the woods, when he meets four other kids and agrees to be initiated into their group. The final dare he must perform is entering the old farmhouse deep in the forest. You go ahead and fill the blanks here if you must, but things don’t go well when Dom goes inside said ramshackled building.
“The final dare he must perform is entering the old farmhouse deep in the forest.”
How does the past of a child undertaking a dare relate to the present with four adults trapped in a life or death situation? Giles, along with co-writer Jonny Grant, capably injects the tired torture-porn genre with new life via a layered story told in an interesting way. Each person has a motive and a cause for being in the room. Even the attacker has his story. Maybe it’s premature to ask, but where were Giles and Grant when ideas for the reboot of Saw were being thrown around?
As far as the production goes, the modestly budgeted film looks substantial with the nuanced lensing by Andrew Rodger, drawing a soft contrast between the innocent past and the aggressive present. Props must also be given to the savage practical effects headed by Anna Andreeva. One negative standout was the odd sound mix that seemed to maximize the use of film score presence and icky sounds. Like yes, we get it that these people are eating raw meat, having to peel fetid flesh from one another, and inject spider eggs into one another’s ears. But those slurps, gurgles, and slushes stand out in a cartoonish way.
Yes, all is revealed in the end, and the movie spares us the usual gimmicks found in serial killer pics. I honestly have to say that the standouts here are Alderson and Grant, who find a new way to approach old material. They are also two gentlemen that I would not want to be tortured by as their minds have concocted some fiendish procedures. Just wicked.
I say, see The Dare as soon as you can. It is a nasty, suspenseful, and gory thriller that will keep you guessing to the end.