Tag Archives: Jeff Wadlow

Films Against Humanity

Truth or Dare

by Hope Madden

Do people over the age of 8 still honestly play Truth or Dare? This idea surprises me. Aren’t there video games kids can be wasting time with?

I suppose the real surprise is that it took four years for a film to rip off It Follows. The new PG-13 horror from Blumhouse, Truth or Dare, takes a stab at it.

No, it’s not sex. But it is a curse that you pass on to other people to save yourself. A super lame curse that blends the clever concept of It Follows with the by-the-numbers structure of one of the later Final Destinations and wraps it all up in a faux-contemporary cautionary tale about the digital age.


I’d point out that co-writer/director Jeff Wadlow was primarily lifting from his own 2005 film Cry Wolf, but I decided to go with movies you might have seen—movies that merit imitation.

So. Goody two-shoes Olivia (Lucy Hale) plans to spend her final spring break as a college student building houses with Habitat for Humanity, but her trampy bestie Markie (Violett Beane) and their binge-drinking roomie Penelope (Sophia Ali) have other plans. They guilt Olivia into spending the time with them, their boyfriends and an ethnic minority/gay sixth wheel in Mexico.

Hooray! Six slasher stereotypes—I mean, six best friends!—head south to flirt with alcohol poisoning and make bad decisions. Like playing grade school sleepover games and going to that decaying old mission.

Truth is, there are moments when one performance or a single intriguing notion or a clever call-back threatens to save a scene, by the final reveal you realize how heavy-handed the film really is.

Performances are bland, kills lack inspiration, there aren’t even enough of the prerequisite jump scares to keep the target PG-13 audience interested.

If you are of-age, hopefully you bought some beer with that ID because you’ll need the lubrication to help you glide past the lapses in logic, sometimes comical dialog and one laugh-out-loud moment at the vending machine.

Brad (Hayden Szeto, who deserves better) hears the ominous sound of an otherworldly voice calling out his name.

Except that it sounds exactly like some stoned guy hiding on the other side of the candy machine trying out his spooky voice and stage-whispering, “Braaaaaaaaadddddd!”

My entire row laughed.

So, there you go. There is some enjoyment to be had.


Where’s Crazy Nic Cage When You Need Him?


by George Wolf


Well, consider the party that was Kick-Ass officially pooped upon.

It’s too bad, because three years ago that film emerged as a violent blast of tongue in cheek fun.  This time around, Kick-Ass 2 provides plenty of violence, but the tongue is far from the cheek, leaving fun in very short supply.

The heroic duo of “Kick-Ass” Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and “Hit-Girl” Mindy (Chloe Grace Moretz) is back,  joined in crime fighting by a group of other homemade heroes, including Colonel Stars and Stripes (an uber-macho Jim Carrey).

In response, Kick-Ass’s friend-turned-foe Chris/”Red Mist,” (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) rebrands himself as super villain “The Motherfucker.” Hungry to take revenge on Kick-Ass for killing his father,  The MFer recruits a team of super evil friends to take on the do- gooders.

Director/co-writer Jeff Wadlow (Never Back Down) just doesn’t seem to understand what made the original Kick-Ass so appealing. As violent as it was, it was never mean-spirited, but K-A2 is permeated by a nasty streak that meanders between uncomfortable and downright distasteful. Regardless of what they did or didn’t do in the source comic book, a film is a different animal, and this one is not at all playful.

Jim Carrey made headlines by refusing to promote K-A2, apparently moved by the Sandy Hook shootings to reconsider the film’s tone. You can see now he has a point, though it’s a bit curious why it wasn’t apparent from the start.

Taylor-Johnson and Moretz are effective, both still able to showcase some sweet vulnerability in their respective characters. The script saddles Moretz with the tougher assignment, as Hit-Girl struggles with the transition from sidekick to major player.

The framed picture she keeps of “Big Daddy” (Nicolas Cage) provides a sobering reminder of how much he’s missed in part two. Cage’s hilarious Adam West parody kept the original Kick-Ass grounded in smart mischief, while the new installment plays it much too straight.

The kicking of asses was never the point of Kick-Ass, a point that’s obviously lost on Kick-Ass 2.