Microbudget slasher series goes back to its roots with a callback to the mid-1980s original

This week’s review is for one of those flicks where the filmmakers decide to say the hell with a whole bunch of the ones that we did before with the same title and here’s the REAL sequel to the first one that we did.

And, while that is a step up from taking the first one and doing a full out remake, such a “deletequel” requires all kinds of mental contortions from die-hard fans — just ask the hardcore Halloween fanatics about how that works. 

When they go this route, filmmakers are asking a lot because the fans have to: a) accept the fact that the timeline of the characters whom they’ve come to enjoy and be fans of just got upended in favor of money; b) accept the fact that whatever one was their favorite sequel before this one came out just got kicked in the gazebos to the curb in favor of this new narrative; and c) resist the urge to be spiteful and not be enraged enough at the filmmakers so that they actually give the new flick a chance.

So here we are with I Dared You! Truth or Dare 5, a sequel to a microbudget mid-1980s slasher that you’d find in finer independent video stores back in the day. Full disclosure: I’m at a disadvantage because I have not seen any of the four preceding flicks before popping in this one, and so I can’t just go on and analyze how this one holds up when compared to what happens halfway through Truth or Dare 3.

First thing I noticed — they weren’t able to get Madonna back for this one — same title, different horror show. (For those of you who are too young to get that reference, make sure the safe search is on when you look it up).

The real first thing I noticed is the epic collection of big-box videocassettes in the video store being examined by a teen named Dax, who’s hanging out in the horror section and pulls out a video copy of the original Truth or Dare. Retro VHS aficionados will want to grab a cold shower immediately following and invest in a new pause button on the remote. Dax then gets yelled at by his mother who is working the register for picking up such trash and then, in a flashback that appeared in the original Truth or Dare (I assume), is chainsawed in the head by a guy in a mask as he drives by. The guy in the mask must have just got the car aligned.

After further review, the scene immediately should have caused a time paradox and made the laptop I was watching the DVD on implode in a spark of improbability. Namely, how does the killer from a fictional movie attack a kid in the “real” world of the movie unless the movie that Dax picked up wasn’t the same Truth or Dare? Five minutes in, Truth or Dare 5 already proves that Stephen Hawking (or was it Douglas Adams?) was wrong.

The flashback provided by co-directors Tim Ritter and Scott Tepperman in the opening credits is appreciated, but they didn’t do enough of it early enough in the flick so that people like yours truly knew the backstory. I didn’t learn the name of the killer from the first flick, Mike Strauber, until about 3/4s of the way through the movie, but it wasn’t a stunning revelation or mystery and could have just been stated at the start. Same thing with the revelation that Strauber was behind the weird Truth or Dare website that serves as the chassis for the plot.

Dax (Scott Tepperman) claims his first victim, a unsuspecting hotel clerk. (Screen shot from DVD by reviewer Ben Nagy)

So after some (insistent is the best way to describe it) synth music, we learn that Dax (Tepperman) is all grown up and is just being released by his doctor from the really rundown medical facility out in the middle of nowhere where he had been getting treatment. After getting a business card from Dr. Desmond Hall (Jim O’Rear) with a web address written on it, Dax’s first act of freedom is to find himself a hotel room, strangle the clerk who escorts him to the room, chainsaw her in the bathtub and eat part of her after chopping off her head.

Doc Desmond obviously does psychology REAL GOOD.

Dax visits the website which is part of the “dark web,” I guess, where people follow each other  upload videos of themselves torturing other people after receiving dares or something of that effect. He bonds with Sarah, who enjoys watching his videos where he dons an Energizer headlamp, burglarizes a house and tapes strangers who are so busy aardvarking that they don’t notice the big guy with the half mask in the room with them taping them aardvarking.

Crazy Joel’s nephew (Michael Baker) has the advantage over the would-be victim he plans to electrocute with the box that says Danger! High Voltage. (Screen capture from DVD by reviewer Ben Nagy.)

We then meet Dan Hess (Joel D. Wynkoop), who is given a case of money by a relative of a victim of the original Truth or Dare killer, and Hess is going to get to the bottom of this whole website. He then busts into the basement of a guy who is threatening to electrocute an old guy on a livestream and yells at him that he’s “decimating these people! Ruining their lives!”

Ladies and gentlemen, our hero.

Meanwhile Dax gets some vengeance on his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend, helps his devoted follower Sarah get revenge on her abusive ex and starts doing some cat and mouse with Hess, making him go through a gauntlet of painful and embarrassing situations that get broadcast to everyone. Speaking of pain …

Dan Hess (Joel D. Wynkoop) and Dax have their climactic showdown in the basement of the Sunnyvale Mental Institution with the life of Hess’s wife in the balance.
Dax waxes philosophic with his psychologist, Dr. Desmond Hall (Jim O’Rear).

A star and a half.

I Dared You! Truth or Dare 5 is available on DVD.