Anecdotal evidence suggests that university students going anywhere near a spinning bottle and playing a game of truth or dare is suspiciously unlikely. Yet these are the foundations of 'Truth Or Dare', a curious British horror-thriller, that never quite thrills nor quite scares.
It's the end of term and a group of university students are celebrating handsomely, with drinks, drugs and sex splashed around in true 'Skins' style. Amongst the debauchery, a game of truth or dare begins - ending in humiliation for posh outcast Felix (Tom Kane).
Four of the students chiefly responsible for Felix's humiliation unexpectedly find themselves invited to a birthday party as Felix's stately manor. They are led to an old haunting lodge in the woods and greeted by Felix's brother, Justin (David Oakes), who soon initiates his own game of truth or dare - with deadly consequences.
Aside from its dubious premise, 'Truth Or Dare' has a glimmer of promise - either through the potentially gruesome deaths that await or the path of survival for our plucky protagonists. Unfortunately, amid the clunky dialogue, writer Matthew McGuchan composes an ensemble of thoroughly unsympathetic characters who often commit puzzling actions.
The devilish Jennie Jacques is a stand out performance, her character one of the more developed in the piece. But even she is dragged down by the film's laboured ending, confusingly foreshadowed considering its intended "twist ending" status. Director Robert Heath fails to deliver suspense, compounded by the viewer's lack of emotional investment in the characters.
If only 'Truth Or Dare' took itself a little less seriously, perhaps progressing in a similarly tongue-in-cheek manner to 'The Cabin In The Woods', then a rollicking good time may have been had. Instead, this is a missed opportunity, with few highlights. British independent horror can be so much better.
'Truth Or Dare' is on limited release in UK cinemas through Cine-Britannia, before being released on Aug 27 on DVD and Blu-ray.