Exclusive: Nick Simon on Truth or Dare

The haunted house trope never gets old. At least, not for me: I’ve seen everything from The Uninvited to Annabelle Creation. And now, I can’t wait for Truth or Dare. In Truth or Dare, a group of college friends head to a “Haunted Rental” for Halloween. But when they replay the game that made the house infamous, they awaken an evil spirit intent on stealing their souls.

Aside from the subject, I’m a fan of the director, Nick Simon. That’s why I was glad to be able to ask him a few questions about film, as I gear up to see it when it debuts on the SyFy Channel next month.

Dread Central: I saw this line is the synopsis… “You must do the dare, or the dare does you.” Wow, that sounds intriguing. What does it mean?

Nick Simon: First off, I just want to thank you for your continuous support. You might not know this but you, (Staci) actually wrote the first film review of my career with Removal. So it’s always good to talk to you.

DC: Really? No, I did not know that! I’m glad it was a good one. You’re welcome!

NS: So… “Do the dare or the dare does you”, is a warning that keeps coming back to our characters and haunts them throughout this brutal little film. Basically if you get a dare in the game and you don’t do it, the dare – however crazy it is – somehow happens to you regardless.

DC: I didn’t know IMDb would even let you post a movie without a writer… but I sure don’t see one listed on there or anywhere else? Did you write it? Or… are you building an air of mystery around the film by not telling?

NS: I do love that there is a mystery around this! It’s funny, I always have several scripts that I’m writing at any given time. This was not one of them. Thing is, I’m a really slow writer. So one day last year when I’m at home banging on the computer keys (slowly) this script is sent to me that Thommy Hutson wrote called Truth Or Dare. There are about 500 different “Truth or Dare” films, books, Madonna movies, whatever… out there, so I didn’t think much at first, based on the title alone. But, I knew Thommy’s writing. I’ve read his book on Wes Craven and the making of A Nightmare on Elm Street called Never Sleep Again. I was also very aware of his work on the documentary. So I sat down and read his vicious little script. It’s a really “fun and games” type of horror script that reminded me of the things I loved about the Final Destination franchise. I absolutely love watching those films. He knew me from my work with Wes on The Girl In The Photographs, so when we met and talked about the script, we clicked very well.

DC: Did you play “truth or dare” as a kid? To what do you attribute the enduring appeal of the game? I feel like it’s been around forever and yet even people today are still interested in it.

NS: I think I played Truth or Dare as a kid? I mean, I assume I did. I was and am a pretty big nerd, both growing up and now. There is a higher probability that my Dungeons and Dragons character played Truth or Dare before I did. People must be still interested in it, because it has been around forever. It’s a thing that will be around forever, I think. What’s compelling about the game is by playing it alone, the player feels some sort of underlying pressure to complete the task, no matter what. Even if it’s confessing a secret or running down the street naked, just because everyone agreed to play this game they are beholden to its unspoken, yet simple, rules. And, of course, there is also a chance you can kiss the girl you would never get to kiss otherwise.

DC: Heather Langenkamp is in your movie! That should be enough, but I’d love to know more. Who does she play? What was it like to work with her? Tell us something about Heather we may not know!

NS: Okay, so working with Heather is definitely checking a mark off my bucket list. Heather is a total pro. We made the offer to her and never in a million years did I think she would say yes. She is playing a character named Donna. Without giving too much away, the movie opens in 1983 and something happens to Donna as a teenager that leaves her scarred and damaged. When we catch up to her now she meets our cast and tries to help them through the pickle they got themselves into. Heather is such an amazing sport to work with too. She sat through about 4 hours of prosthetics each day she worked. She’s great in the picture and it was just such a true honor to work with a legitimate scream queen.

DC: Your films are really varied – from instance, 2 Lava 2 Lantula! could not be more different from Removal. Is this something you’ve endeavored to do, or do you just kind of take whatever interesting filmmaking opportunities that come your way? Where do you see yourself professionally, 5 years from now?

NS: Hopefully you’re still talking to me in 5 years. I have a pretty weird filmography going right now. I think if you know me, it makes perfect sense. I love so many types of films, especially in these different genres. I love horror, science fiction, action, and comedies. I think the one thing all of my films have in common is that they’re all comedies to some degree. Wes Craven came on board to produce The Girl In The Photographs because he thought it was a really funny script. 2 Lava was pretty much a straight up wacky comedy and giant creature feature – action flick. Something I’ve never had the opportunity to try before plus working with Steven Guttenberg was just a dream. It was a fun challenge for me to incorporate the big action elements into that film and I had a great time doing it. That said, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever accomplished. We shot that picture in 13 days with a set of Lincoln Logs and about 6 bucks. I would say the next projects that I’m writing and reading now are probably as weird as everything in my past. I have a quirky thriller that I’m writing that takes place in the early 80’s. I just read a script I loved that is literally a comedy/horror/sci-fi (in that order). It’s one of the craziest scripts I’ve ever read. I’m also trying to get a kid’s show off the ground. All of it is in the genre space that I love and hope to continue working in.

DC: I haven’t seen Truth or Dare yet… so please tell our readers (and me!) what to expect and what you hope the takeaway will be.

NS: Truth or Dare is just a fun film that the Syfy network let us go nuts on. The network and my producer, Lisa Hansen really just let us make a crazy little Halloween movie that is a ton of fun with plenty of blood. Lisa also made the current retelling of the I Spit On Your Grave movies so you know she is willing to push boundaries. Hopefully it will make you laugh while scaring the shit out of you. We had a blast making and it and I had such a rock-solid cast too. I put some of these actors though hell and back. Cassie Scerbo and Brytni Sarpy can attest to this. Watching those two perform in this film was incredible. I got to work with Luke Baines again who I absolutely love working with. You might remember him as Tom from The Girl in the Photographs. He’s one of my favorite actors to work with. I wanted people to see him play a… good guy? …I guess? I really hope people enjoy watching this film and have as much fun with it as we did making it. It’s a completely different kind of horror picture than I have ever made. But I think it’s also a lot closer to the horror films I grew up loving.

Simon’s Truth or Dare stars Cassie Scerbo (Sharknado franchise, “Make It or Break It”), Ricardo Hoyos (“Degrassi: The Next Generation”), Brytni Sarpy (“General Hospital”), Mason Dye (“Teen Wolf,” Flowers in the Attic), Harvey Guillen (“The Magicians”), Alexxis Lemire (The Other Mother), Luke Baines (The Girl In The Photographs, Under The Silver Lake), Christina Masterson (“Power Rangers Megaforce”), and Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street).

Look for Truth or Dare on October 8th, only on Syfy.

Eight college friends head to a “haunted rental” in a remote town for Halloween weekend. Once there, they play the game rumored to have caused the deaths of seven teenagers decades earlier, Truth or Dare. What starts out as vodka-induced fun quickly turns serious when the dares become sickeningly dangerous and the truths threaten to tear the group apart.

When players attempt to refuse the increasingly challenging tasks, they’re met with deadly consequences, quickly discovering: You must do the dare, or the dare does you. As the death toll mounts, the remaining players must race against the clock to outrun, outsmart, and outlast the simple game of Truth or Dare.

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Staci Layne Wilson

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