Director: Giles Alderson
Script: Giles Alderson & Jonny Grant
Cast: Bart Edwards, Richard Short, Alexandra Evans, Daniel Schutzmann, Richard Brake, Robert Maaser, Harry Jarvis, Mitchum Norman, Devorah Wilde
Running time: 93 minutes
After getting berated by his wife, for not being home enough, Jay (Edwards) finds himself violently kidnapped from the family home by a masked stranger. He later wakes up with a sack bag on his head, and chained to a wall in a cellar with three other beat-up strangers. Every so often the masked nutter comes in and makes them torture each other and, in exchange, he feeds them raw meat to keep them alive. It’s not exactly Butlins!
Running in parallel to this story is another twisted scenario where a young lad, Dominic, is being kept prisoner by a redneck pig farmer, Credence (Brake), who lost his own son a few years previously and sees Dom as a replacement for his loss. Dominic is brutalised by the sadistic Credence as the latter tries to get the boy to release his inner evil and join him as he slaughters pigs, presumably in order to earn some kind of living.
As the two stories coalesce we find out how Dom ended up being Credence’s protégé, when he was dared to go inside a spooky farmhouse/abattoir in the middle of some creepy woods by a group of kids who’d formed their own ‘gang’, one that Dom wanted to join so he’d at least have some friends.
It doesn’t take a genius to stitch all these clues together and quickly work out why the middle-aged people in the basement are being mistreated and who their tormentor is. But that’s not really the point of films like The Dare, since we’re rooted firmly in ‘torture porn’ territory here, so if you enjoyed the likes of the Saw and Hostel films then you’re bound to get a kick out of this demented movie too.
The Dare is nicely shot, with some atmospheric autumnal colours used throughout, and features some cool gore effects and some lo-fi critter encounters too. The game cast put themselves through the mill quite a bit (it must have been a punishing shoot for some of them) and the subtle soundtrack holds things together nicely.
Sadly, what lets The Dare down most is the script, which produces little in the way of originality and signposts its twist ending from miles off; too early on in proceeding to have the impact the makers clearly wanted it to have. There are also a couple of silly scenes, where I was scratching my head in bewilderment. For example, at the beginning, when Jay is starting to pack for a trip away from home (he’s always at conferences you see), he goes looking for one of his daughter’s favourite books, and unlocks the door, after clearly acknowledging to us, the audience, previously that he’d spotted something weird outside; unless of course I misinterpreted that. It is little moments like that which ruin a film’s credibility.
However, there’s still a fair bit to enjoy with regards to The Dare and if you’re a fairly undemanding gorehound, like me, you will probably still enjoy it. It certainly held my attention.
Lionsgate UK is distributing The Dare on DVD and download. Unfortunately, there were little in the way of extras on the DVD; just a couple of trailers for other Lionsgate releases, namely: The Driver with Mark Dacascos and Survive the Night with Bruce Willis. It would have been nice to have seen a making of documentary on this film as I’d imagine they had quite an interesting experience making it; probably somewhere in Eastern Europe, if the credits are to be interpreted that way.