The official title is “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare,” a marketing move meant to inspire confidence in fans of the scream-savvy production shingle’s excellent 2017 slate. In lieu of a tagline, the poster even reads, “The producer of ‘Happy Death Day’ and ‘Get Out’ invites you to play,” linking the new offering to those gleefully accomplished horror genre efforts, both of which excelled by mining something fresh — and frightening — from deceptively familiar setups.
How dispiriting, then, for audiences taking a stab at brand loyalty — and how embarrassing for Blumhouse head Jason Blum, who knows better — that “Truth or Dare,” even in the technically capable hands of director Jeff Wadlow (“Kick-Ass 2”), ranks alongside “Ouija” as one of the studio’s laziest wide-release outputs. Blumhouse does maintain a black sheep-heavy B-side, making movies that are swiftly buried somewhere in the grim boondocks of Netflix’s “Teen Screams” subsection. That such a fate did not befall “Truth or Dare” is more a matter of high-star wattage than cinematic value.
Lucy Hale (TV’s “Pretty Little Liars”) stars as the archetypal good girl, a college senior who’d rather spend spring break volunteering than head south of the border with friends for a week of drunken revelry. Alas, she’s roped into the more hedonistic vacay, going along with it in part to make eyes at inoffensively hunky Lucas (Tyler Posey, of TV’s “Teen Wolf”), who’s dating best friend Markie (Violett Beane).
Four other students join them, their characters all written with impressive dispassion, and on their last night they end up in a crumbling mission, playing truth or dare with a stranger who bounces after saying he’s trapped them in a cursed version of the game. Back home, the gang experiences hallucinations in which passersby are hijacked by a malevolent force, asking the all-important question with a diabolical grin that splits the difference between screw-loose Jack Torrance and a particularly ghoulish Snapchat filter. If they answer truthfully or complete a dare, they live. If not, they die, usually in nasty yet unimaginative ways that leave one longing for the Rube Goldbergian theatrics of the “Final Destination” franchise.
Four writers are credited with the script, and their combined efforts yield just one scene with genuine verve: a character must navigate a slanted roof until she’s finished a handle of vodka, as her friends race around below, preparing for her fall. Wadlow nails the sequence, but it plays as if spliced in from a different, better film, especially given how crudely “Truth or Dare” cribs from fare like “It Follows” (a contagious curse), “The Cabin in the Woods” (a bonkers plot point that worked there but not here), and “The Bye Bye Man” (most everything else, sadly). Generally, the movie’s as scare-free and slow-witted as it is senseless, enough that you want to challenge Blum to a round.
Truth: Audiences deserve better. Dare: Next time, give it to them.
BLUMHOUSE’S TRUTH OR DARE
Directed by Jeff Wadlow. Written by Wadlow, Michael Reisz, Jillian Jacobs, and Chris Roach. Starring Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane. At megaplexes in Boston, suburbs. 100 minutes. PG-13 (disturbing content, alcohol abuse, violence, language, some sexuality, and thematic material).
Isaac Feldberg can be reached at Isaac.Feldberg@globe.com.