The Dare (2020)

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A man gets a lot more than what he bargains for in this horror film that pays homage to both classic and modern hits of the genre.

Jay Jackson is a businessman who had rarely spent time with his family. He decides that his next business trip will be his last. As he prepares to get ready, he hears a scream. One of his daughters sees his wife knocked out on the floor. Jay tells his daughter to hide and in the midst of things, he too is knocked out. He wakes up, but instead of being home, he is inside of a dark basement.

Jay is not alone. There, he finds Adam Heinz, Kat Gill, and Paul Anderson. The four used to be childhood friends. The appearance of a mysterious man in a tree bark-like mask arrives and forces the four to play a deadly game. The mystery man forces each of the four to do something very dangerous to each other or they will die. Jay and the others soon must realize why they have been chosen to play this deadly game. What secret lies in the basement and who is the man in the mask who is forcing them to play this deadly game?

A film that draws inspiration from the likes of Saw, Hostel, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to name a few, co-writer and director Giles Alderson does something very surprising with this film. It is how he brings the story to life in terms of its execution. While there is an obvious sense of predictability, it is how he conveys the revelations throughout the film that really surprises the viewer as it looks like it’s going one way then ramps up with a very shocking twist in the film that just before its third act reveals all.

The cast is really good in the film. Bart Edwards is Jay, the businessman whose plans for his last business trip is now a fight for survival. Richard Short’s Adam is a loud-mouth security guard who is perhaps the most outspoken of the group captured in the basement while Alexandra Evans’ Kat is the woman who is both scared almost to damsel level but shows a bit of strength in her role.

The great Richard Brake is also excellent as Credence, a hillbilly psychopath who, from how Alderson starts the film, make it look like he’s the one responsible for the kidnapping. But, in a very shocking twist, not only is Credence not the kidnapper, but someone far more dangerous as it’s revealed that the film is a juxtaposition of both flashback and present day. While it does have a sense of being predictable, Alderson does succeed in messing with the viewer’s mind as it pertains to the character of Credence.

Another plus in the film is that the film relies on practical gore effects and not the cheesy CGI that had made the genre look bad temporarily. The “games” our protagonists are forced to play are very extreme, including one character forced to be nailed to a wall a la Jesus Christ, one having their eye taken out, and one has their mouth sewn shut. The effects here are done quite well as we see the tree-bark mask killer forcing the characters to do the unthinkable without having to talk. All he does is point and the victims know what they have to do.

The Dare may be a bit predictable, but it is both Giles Alderson’s way of executing the story and the use of practical effects that make this one a horror gem to check out.

WFG RATING: B+

The Horror Collective presents a Nu Boyana Film in association with JupiterLights Pictures and B2Y Productions. Director: Giles Alderson. Producer: Julian Kostov. Writers: Giles Alderson and Jonny Grant. Cinematography: Andrew Rodger. Editing: Oliver Parker.

Cast: Bart Edwards, Richard Short, Alexandra Evans, Daniel Schutzman, Richard Brake, Robert Maaser, Oliver Cunliffe, Alexander Biehn, Maddy Bryan, George Pilsworth, Harry Jarvis, Devora Wilde.

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