The Dare – Grisly revenge horror is a tale of two halves

The Dare is available to stream and buy from the 12th October

What do you get if you mix Hostel with Saw and then sprinkle in elements of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? The answer is, of course, a grisly, blood-drenched piece of body trauma horror. One that delights in making the audience squirm. However, what if you then lace this with a backstory that highlights the childhood trauma of the killer? The answer, two films uncomfortably rolled into one. The blood-soaked torture of the adult world sitting alongside a far more enthralling and engaging story of the killers past. The result a confused, yet at times, captivating film that plumps for gore over the story.

What starts with an eerie and atmospheric home invasion, quickly descends into classic basement torture horror. With dad of two Jay Jackson (Bart Edwards) finding himself chained to a wall alongside three fellow prisoners, Adam (Richard Short) Kat (Alexandra Evans) and the half-dead Paul (Daniel Schutzmann). Their inescapable prison a mere playpen of torture and pain at the hands of a mysterious figure wearing a mask created from human flesh. But as the grisly and uncomfortable Saw inspired torture ensues, we are taken back in time. A kidnapped, lonely and damaged young boy Dominic (Mitchell Norman) imprisoned by a brutal pig farmer (Richard Brake). His life a mix of torment, slave labour and abuse, the horrific farmer claiming his folks abandoned him.

However, as we jump from the horror of the past to the pain of the present, a truth emerges. With a childhood game sitting at the heart of each imprisoned person. A game that ultimately led a damaged and vulnerable boy straight into the hands of a monster. But, can the adults in the dank, blood-soaked basement escape their torturer? The answer lies in the memories of events long since forgotten, by all but one damaged man.

As stated earlier in the review, The Dare uncomfortably tries to circumnavigate two distinct horror sub-genres. The first one being the ‘torture porn’ body horror of Saw, Hostel and Wolf Creek, while the second is ‘revenge horror’. With the misery of childhood abuse and isolation, leading to horrendous consequences for all those involved. However, here the former offers little that is new, while the latter’s compelling performances and ideas are never given the space to breathe. This is all the more unfortunate when its these flashbacks that give The Dare a voice; not the effects-laden gore that earns it an 18 certificate.

However, despite this significant flaw, The Dare will undoubtedly appeal to audiences looking for a gory, relentless horror this Halloween. Meanwhile, cinematography and performances are strong, with glimmers of ‘what could have been’ had it focused less on gore. So if a blood-drenched torture fest is your cup of tea this Halloween, The Dare may well tick the box. But, if you are looking for something more intelligent than plucked out eyeballs. The Dare will leave you both frustrated and bored by its conclusion.


Director: Giles Alderson

Cast:  Bart EdwardsRichard BrakeRichard Short, Alexandra Evans, Robert Maaser, Mitchell Norman, Harry Jarvis