In The Dare, director Giles Alderson combines skillful storytelling technique and impactful brutally to tell a story of malice and the chain reaction of violence it begets.
Jay Jackson (Bart Edwards) awakens to find himself chained to a basement wall. The room he is in is already occupied by three other prisoners, one of which has his mouth sewed shut. They call him Paul. Jay begins devising schemes to escape, but the other two reject the idea, warning that retribution for disobedience is extreme. Nevertheless, Jay makes his attempt, and the four of them are, in turn, brutalized for it. There doesn’t seem to be a way to escape the room they are in, and their captor’s abuse is getting more aggressive.
Violence is the language of choice in The Dare; it is used to negotiate virtually every scene. Whether physically or emotionally, the film is continuously showing us the savage results of prolonged abuse. The violence here achieves a level of detail that can make it hard to watch in spurts, yet, on the whole, the experience remains palpable. There is a critique of the torture porn genre, saying it can be overdone, washing over the viewer to create the opposite of the intended effect; this is not the case with The Dare.
I suppose to even call The Dare, torture porn feels a bit incongruous. Though the film is trying to make you squirm, there is more meat to these bones. It is a story that respects and emphasizes cause and effect. Good storytelling technique weaves itself into the fabric of the film, making it invisible to the viewer, save for the occasional ‘aha moment.’ Here Alderson plays with setups and pays offs that make every new revelation a treat to discover.
It’s a shame then that the writing doesn’t quite keep up. There is often too much telling and not enough showing. Characters tend to overexplain themselves, almost as if to prove they are the archetype the film claims them to be.
To their credit, the cast does well with what they have, but it’s Richard Brake (3 From Hell, Mandy) who delivers a strong performance as the cruel Credence that got my attention. Brake’s wild-eyed presence feels like the embodiment of violence—his behavior demands your attention when he is on screen.
With The Dare, Giles Alderson and crew created a film that’ll attract horror fans who are here for the creative violence. But also, I believe it’s a story that will also appeal to those in search of a suspenseful thriller that is both engaging and far smarter than it initially lets on.
The Dare is playing in theaters and available on VOD March 3, 2020.
‘The Dare’ Weaves a Clever Tale of Gruesome Violence
Entomophobics beware, this will bug you.