The Dare – Alderson’s grisly horror is a tale of two halves

CINERAMA FILM ONLINE

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

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

What do you get if you mix Hostel with Saw with a sprinkle of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? The answer is a gruesome, blood-drenched piece of body trauma horror that delights in making the audience squirm. However, if you then lace this with a backstory highlighting the killer’s childhood trauma, you get Alderson’s The Dare. Here we find the blood-soaked torture of the adult world coexisting with a far more enthralling and engaging story of the killer’s past.

Alderson’s movie opens with an eerie and atmospheric home invasion thriller before descending into the murky depths of a classic basement torture horror. Here, following the home invasion, dad of two, Jay Jackson (Bart Edwards), finds 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 made from human flesh.


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But as grisly and uncomfortable Saw-inspired events begin to play out, we are taken back in time to a kidnapped, lonely and damaged young boy Dominic (Mitchell Norman). Here Dominic suffers daily under the fists of his kidnapper, a brutal pig farmer (Richard Brake) – his life one of torment, slave labour and abuse as the farmer claims his folks abandoned him. As we jump from the horror of the past to the pain of the present, a truth emerges, alongside a childhood game of life and death. But, can the adults in the dank, blood-soaked basement use this game to escape their torturer? The answer lies in the memories of events long since forgotten.


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The Dare attempts to navigate two distinct horror sub-genres in building its story, torture porn and psychological revenge horror. However, it is through exploring the horror of childhood abuse and isolation that The Dare hits its stride and finds its horror voice. It is, therefore, a shame that this part of the film is never given the space to breathe and develop fully. Here Alderson opts to focus far more on the tried and tested torture porn, making a fatal mistake in placing his attention on a sub-genre already overflowing with films.

However, despite this significant flaw, The Dare will undoubtedly appeal to audiences looking for a gory and relentless horror this Halloween. So if a blood-drenched torture fest is your cup of tea, The Dare may well tick that box. But, if you are looking for something more intelligent than plucked-out eyeballs, The Dare will leave you frustrated in its inability to capitalise on its strengths.


Director: Giles Alderson

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