Written by James Rodrigues

It all begins with the sound of gravel underfoot, as the camera moves around. We’re looking through the eyes of somebody, and they’ve stopped to gaze into an occupied house. The sight, a rare family night in for Jay (Bart Edwards), enjoying playing with his daughters. Jay is relishing the time while he can, as career aspirations have caused him to be apart from his family. As much as Jay promises he’ll be home more often, the facial expressions from his wife, Jess (Devora Wilde), tell another story. One of tiredness, from hearing that oft-repeated promise again and again.

This time, there’s more to worry about than keeping promises. A home invasion occurs, and Jay awakens in a grubby basement. He’s chained to the wall with three other prisoners, one of whom has been horrifically injured. Preceded by flickering lights, their sadistic captor emerges, wearing a gruesome skin mask. Robert Maaser casts an imposing figure as the antagonist, at his best when silent and hulking, where he lets the awful acts speak for themselves. Said acts are sure to leave you wincing, as eye trauma is involved, and there’s an unnerving inclusion of bugs.

The Dare 2020 Lionsgate horror film review

It all feels especially nasty, and there’s a good reason for that. It all centres around an interesting idea, of how something can be fleeting to some, while ultimately defining to others. It’s one that’ll make you pause, and question where your sympathies should lie. Although, the links between the past and present can feel glaring, and a bit too neat in how it ties things up. Also playing out is a subplot involving Richard Brake, reliable as ever with an unnerving performance. He spends time with a young boy, spouting his philosophy about the world’s evils. What’s most impressive is Mitchell Norman, the young actor who holds his own opposite Brake.

The Dare 2020 Lionsgate horror film review

All throughout, the film’s grim nature feels pervasive, thanks to the uncomfortable atmosphere director Giles Alderson has crafted. Just spending time in that foul basement will leave you longing for a shower. Aided by Jonny Grant on the screenplay, the pair have made an interesting character study, with torture elements mixed in. Unfortunately, it’s less effective in the final act, which feels out of step with what came before. The less said about the unnecessary epilogue, the better. But if you’re looking for a gloomy experience which delivers the gore, this is worth giving a shot.

The Dare is available on Digital Download from October 5th, and DVD from October 12th

Rating: 3 out of 5

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