Tag Archives: Gore

TRUTH OR DARE (2013) by Jonny Numb

[84 minutes. Unrated. Director: Jessica Cameron]

I’ve only done one interview for THE LAST KNOCK podcast, but it was very special: back in early 2014, I spoke with Jessica Cameron, who was on a promotional kick for her directorial debut, Truth or Dare. I knew of her status as a prolific, hard-working actor and rabid adherent of the genre, but it wasn’t until I spent a fast-moving hour with her (via Skype) that I realized I was in the presence of a promising new horror filmmaker.

Truth or Dare is not without its flaws – which I’ll get to – but it also does a lot of things very well, considering the limited setting, cast, and resources. It’s hard to keep a feature-length movie confined to a single location interesting and exciting, but Cameron finds a way.

True to its title, the film doesn’t flinch from horrible things – it’s also so saturated with screams, shouting, and agony that my neighbors probably thought someone was being murdered in my apartment.

Other than some fleeting comedic asides and a satirical element that recalls the likes of Natural Born Killers and Funny Games, Truth or Dare takes its extremes seriously. The setup, however, is pure Saw territory that evolves, with mounting dread, into the no-(wo)man’s land found in the latter Human Centipede films.

The plot is simple: a group of friends gain online notoriety by staging “truth or dare” videos with simulated life-or-death consequences. During a local talk-show interview, the group is confronted by crazed fan Derek (Ryan Kizer), a screw-loose nutcase unable to discern fiction from reality. On the night of their latest recording session, the friends find themselves taken hostage by this obsessed fiend, who escalates the stakes by revealing everyone’s hidden secrets.

The script (by Jonathan Scott Higgins and Cameron) knows its audience, and aims squarely for the horror discomfort zone: while the initial “truth”-telling by the reluctant participants comes across as a string of contrived tabloid behaviors, fetishes, and misdeeds, the actors are committed to making these details pay off in ways both visceral and emotional. Late in the game, when a mutilated and brutalized (but still breathing) character is shocked into consciousness by a bucket of her friends’ blood, Cameron has reached a level of degradation that few horror filmmakers ever achieve. It ain’t pretty, but goddamn if it isn’t effective.

The flaws of Truth or Dare are mostly innate to the setup…and, in a weird way, could be subliminal strengths. When the reality of the game settles in, the performances take a little time to find their proper footing – sometimes the hysterical reactions are overdone, while others don’t resonate enough. There are also moments where characters, free from their constraints and armed, could conceivably get the drop on Derek, but do not (though by the time this happens, everyone is implicated and chugging along with the game’s twisted logic). And as the emcee of the festivities, Kizer (invoking a cross between Charles Manson and Brad Pitt’s character in 12 Monkeys) is charismatic, albeit the type of deranged fan we’ve seen in many films; he acquits himself well as someone you love to hate, but also whose presence outstays its welcome.

But if the intent was for the viewer’s experience to reflect to characters’, Cameron has succeeded in spades.

The consistent surprise, in addition to the character-based revelations, is the film’s unflinching embrace of bloodshed. Carrie Mercado’s practical effects in Truth or Dare are stunning in their in-your-face brutality, and the actors convey every wound with disquieting conviction – the violence here is not “cool,” but closer to the messy, handmade gore you’d experience in, say, a Jim VanBebber film. Throughout, I also found myself thinking the effects were a spiritual heir to the pioneering extremes of Herschell Gordon Lewis.

Once the credits rolled, I was convinced of Cameron’s skills in front of and behind the camera, and in watching the supplemental interview footage on the DVD, was reminded of her genuine affection for the genre. Truth or Dare is a very distinct calling card that bodes well for her future directorial outings (including the Tristan Risk-starring Mania) – I can’t wait to see what horrible things she brings us next.

What’s Jessica Cameron up to now? A lot! Get the details at her website.

(Truth or Dare is available on DVD from Invincible Pictures, and digitally via online retailers.)

(Photo of Jessica Cameron via Nerdly.)

Crash Analysis Support Team:

unknownJonny Numb (aka Jonathan Weidler) only plays favorites when it comes to review sites like Crash Palace Productions and loudgreenbird.com. He co-hosts THE LAST KNOCK horror podcast on iTunes, and can also be found on Twitter and Letterboxd.

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Horror Double Feature: Antibirth and The Love Witch

The Last KnockNo two horror films could be so diametrically opposed. Antibirth is a gritty bizarro film with a 1980’s flavor and The Love Witch comes on with romance through the eyes of a desperate woman. But are they worth watching? And if you’re a fan and supporter of “Women in Horror,” you’ll definitely be interested in these two independent movies.

We go knee deep into both features and deliver our take on Antibirth, The Love Witch, the people who made them, and the people who starred in them for better or worse – and definitely until death due us part.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@TimothiousSmith @TraCee_tr @dkarner @SamesCarolyn @AFiendOnFilm @Kent_Harper @aicforever @cbkillers @RealJillyG @BleedingCritic @isaacrthorne @d_m_elms @palkodesigns @JessicaCameron_ @CarnEvilKlown @RonGizmo @CrypticPictures @nicolemalonso @OklahomaWard @missannabiller @msrobinsun @GianKeys @JeffreyVParise @antibirthmovie @nlyonne @OfficialChloeS

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Extreme Horror – Abuse of Power

The Last Knock

It’s part two of our EXTREME SERIES with the most excellent William Meeker discussing “Abuse of Power”! We’ll look at some of horror cinema’s most disturbing entries where arrogant bastards think they’re better than anybody else – and unleash the trauma. We dissect the stories, break them down into select parts, and throw the rest into the garbage – so you won’t have to. What EXTREME SERIES films made this list? Listen in and find out…

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@MelanieMcCurdie @shilohfernandez @ScreamHorrorMag @kidblue @RealJillyG @FangTheJester @JennySpain @dixiefairy @WoodyAllenDaily @DarkCorners3 @DavidKoechner @Israel_Finn @Sara_Paxton @TheNightGallery @Pat_Healy @RonGizmo @d_m_elms @EmbryEthan @BleedingCritic @Pascal_Laugier @ScarecrowVideo @AFiendOnFilm @Trent_Haaga @RSBrzoska and Paul J. Williams

The EXTREME SERIES always includes special guest, film aficionado, William Meeker! You can find his remarks and reviews on film, from horror to science fiction, at Loud Green Bird, and follow him on Twitter as well.

THE LAST KNOCK presents: XX (2017)

The Last Knock

The guys sit down with writer and author Thomas S. Flowers to discuss the all-women writers and directors of the horror anthology, XX. The trio looks at story, theme, and element of maternal tales that permeate this foursome of short films. Learn what worked, what didn’t, and why we’re hoping for XX part two.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@DreadCentral @Theaterofscifi @DeniseGossett @Shriekfest @PromoteHorror @badchopsuey2 @Scream_Factory @MFFHorrorCorner @Vinyl_Film @DarkMoonComic @inthenightdoc @DonRiemer @DinoBarlaam @MexBarbaroFilm @Jorgemichelgrau @HorrorGuerrero @EdgarNito @IsaacEzban @LoretinaSoy @JohnKassir @MagnetReleasing @MagnoliaPics @Brownnmiss @JovankaVuckovic @XXtheMovie @roxanne73 @karynkusama @st_vincent @sheilaYvand @breedawool @melanielynskey @TheBabadook @AgirlWalksHome @LisaReneePitts @FriscoKidTX @LoudGreenBird @IamMelanieWise @ArtemisPics @Artemis_FF

You can find Thomas S. Flowers on his website, Machinemean.org, on Twitter, and on Amazon.

THE LAST KNOCK presents: THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES (2007)

The Last Knock

John Erick Dowdle’s The Poughkeepsie Tapes is one of horror filmdom’s “Unholy Grails” and a snipe hunt rolled into one. On its ten-year anniversary, we take a look at the film that came with a trailer but an ultra-limited release before being pulled from theaters. The only way to get feature is as a bootleg. So what’s this mockumentary about, and is it worth purchasing illegally until the Dowdle brothers give us a legitimate release? We’ll have some answers – and we invite John and Drew to come on the show and tell us why in Hell The Poughkeepsie Tapes is in distribution purgatory.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@unclerayscrazy @MelanieMcCurdie @dvdinfatuation @SusanontheLedge @HershelGreene1 @GuyRicketts @JessicaCameron_ @AFiendOnFilm @IamMelanieWise ‪@ArtemisPics ‪@Artemis_FF @RealJillyG @RonGizmo @FANGORIA @dixiefairy @ScreamHorrorMag @Israel_Finn @SlaughteredBird @CrypticPictures @dkarner @TheFearMerchant @SpookyMovies @d_m_elms @RSBrzoska @jedowdle @DrewDowdle @Rodney_Ascher @TheNightmareDoc @LanceWeiler @TheTunnelMovie @allorange @TMZ @Scream_Factory @ArrowFilmsVideo @blunderground @JodorowskysDune @CANAL_Factory and Paul J. Williams

THE LAST KNOCK presents: 2016’s Best Horror Films

The Last Knock

2016 was a pretty damn good year for horror – the movie variety, of course – and we’re happy to take a look at all those films that made the genre great. In fact, we’ll give you a reverse order countdown to the very best after we look at honorable mentions. Sure, we can wail about neon-colored witches hiding in rundown bars or something, but we won’t.

Is your favorite on the list?

This episodes SCREAM OUTS from Twitter:

@RealJillyG @ThisIsHorror @dixiefairy @awholelottabern @KissedByFate2 @Tammysdragonfly @DarkCorners3 @LianeMoonRaven @aus_warrior @actorMartinez @DeadExitComic @GreyaABC @Brooklyn99FOX @CSINY_CBS @GrindhouseDave @d_m_elms @smburkett @DFITWmovie @RomanJossart @jessicaalba @ThomasJane @ponysmasher @LightsOutMovie @maria_bello @teresapalmer @jenamalone @10CloverfieldLn @TheWitchMovie @anyataylorjoy @NicolasWR @canevrenol @SouthboundMovie @mariaolsen66 @sunchokefilm @SarahHagan4Real @BenCresciman @barbaracrampton @mickeykeating @laurenashleycar @saulnier_jeremy @GreenRoomMovie @GreenRoomFilm @SirPatStew @MaconBlair @BlueRuinMovie @murderpartyfilm

Don’t forget to weigh in with your comments, Billy and Jonny love to respond because they don’t get out much – unless it’s keeping the zombie hordes at bay…

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Extreme Horror – Family Fear

The Last Knock

If you love extreme horror, those disturbing films that make you cringe and wonder what the hell’s wrong with you for watching them to begin with, then this initial segment is definitely a must listen.

In this first of our Extreme Horror series, we explore those films that present families in a far different light than Disney ever could. We crash into A SERBIAN FILM, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, and more. We’re not looking at gore and shock value, but the exploration of emotion and ethics that rocks us to the core. After all, these are the disturbing ventures into extreme horror that will keep you awake at night because your mind’s on fire.

Billy Crash and Jonny Numb traverse the trauma with special guest, William Meeker! You can find his remarks and reviews on film, from horror to science fiction, at Loud Green Bird, and follow him on Twitter at @LoudGreenBird as well.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@wilkravitz @gregskesworld @BigSpoonyBard @KeyzKeyzworth @jerryWalach @MrMarkzilla @meanlouise @ktanimara @LindaLeeKing @RonGizmo @THETomSavini @flcamera @RiversofGrue @vincentmward @SiaraTyr @isaacrthorne @TheresaSnyder19 @theadman40 @Bigolegoofy1 @tommyjoker73 @The_MOE_Dome @MirandaNading @ThisIsHorror @EmilieFlory @Israel_Finn @RSBrzoska @IvonnaCadaver @AmandaBergloff @aicforever @AFiendOnFilm @MFFHorrorCorner @BleedingCritic @laurenashleycar @mickeykeating and on Facebook: Christopher Alan Broadstone and Doug McCambridge!

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Hodgepodge of Horror VII

The Last Knock

Jonny Numb and Billy Crash take a look at a plethora of horror films from the amazing TONY to the lowly INSEMINOID. We also dive into THE GREEN INFERNO and THE VEIL, to MADMAN and FELT. In the meantime, avoid OPEN GRAVES but definitely stop at TRAILER PARK OF TERROR. Oh, and there’s so much more…

 

 

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS:

@LianeMoonRaven  @CarmenTheater  @OliviaStantonVx  @IvonnaCadaver  @charmag10550469  @isaacrthorne  @kinky_horror  @SiaraTyr  @MelanieMcCurdie  @Theladyphantom  @OklahomaWard  @nicolemalonso  @RealJillyG  @machinemeannow  @RonGizmo  @Talk2Cleo  @RiversofGrue  @EmilieFlory  @PhoenixFiery7  @AFiendOnFilm

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Franchise of Fear: The Human Centipede

The Last Knock

We get down and dirty and crawl for it with Tom Six’s disturbing, gory, and insecticide free Human Centipede series. Find out how the idea burrowed into his mind, why Laurence R. Harvey will haunt your soul every time you pull into a parking lot, and why Dieter Laser’s intense rage will leave you in a permanent nightmare state. Oh, and if you ever get the chance, always volunteer to lead the pede…

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS go to: @EmilieFlory (and to her fans!) @Bernice_Fischer @LaceyLaneAuthor @derekailes @LincolnFarish @isaacrthorne @TheNakedPorch @WGalaini @LVVANGUARD @SMFarren @Guyjo63 @jamiebernadett @mariaolsen66 @ISOYG1978 @LiveBySAT @ionacrv @RealJillyG @LianeMoonRaven @ChristinaPBooks @findjennsvoice @PracticalProf @AnnThraxx @Talk2Cleo @theadman40 @ShaneBorza @SupergiantStarr @DawnHillDesigns @Tammysdragonfly @DearlyDDolls @hanalpixan @KEVONSTOVER @AFiendOnFilm @silentenigma9 @ShoutFactory @IFCfilms

 

 

 

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Horror Double Feature I

The Last Knock

In our first Horror Double Feature, we take a look at why WE ARE STILL HERE is so damn bad, even though it stars the great Barbara Crampton with the cool Larry Fessender and the lovely Lisa Marie. Then again, we take a gander at why the interesting twist on the zombie sub-genre, WYRMWOOD is so damn good.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS go to: @DawnHillDesigns @hanalpixan @palkodesigns @PembrokeSinclai @meanlouise @GraveyardSister @Tammysdragonfly @RonGizmo @RealJillyG @DearlyDDolls @derekailes @LianeMoonRaven @IsaccThorne @AmandaBergloff @DavidWilde49 @cultmetalflix @AFiendOnFilm @nicolemalonso @OklahomaWard @EmiliFlory @silentenigma9 @tomsixx