Let me tell you about the worst spring break ever. Some friends and I went to Mexico—one final hurrah before high school graduation. I met this really interesting person at a bar. We started hitting it off. This person then convinced me to play Truth or Dare with the group; a weird request, but it’s a pretty harmless game from, like, fifth grade!
But then this person revealed his true intentions: The Truth or Dare game was part of some demented ritual. The spin: We had to play Truth or Dare honestly, or else we would die some horrible, unspeakable deat … all right, clearly that never happened, but that is the very real plot to the horror movie Truth or Dare. Sorry, BLUMHOUSE’S Truth or Dare.
I’m not sure what my favorite part of this movie is—that Blumhouse Productions is so high off the success of Get Out that they’ve decided to plug its fucking name into its titles like a glorified Tyler Perry; the fact that the premise is literally about playing a cheesy party game; or that when characters get possessed, their faces contort into some messed-up Snapchat filter. (Jury’s still out on whether it’s scary or unintentionally hilarious.)
Suffice to say, with its current 21 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare is no Get Out. But maybe Blumhouse is onto something: Party games can actually be very scary—scary as in, they induce a lot of real-life anxiety for introverted people like myself who want to just be left the hell alone. Those wack Snapchat filters aren’t making my skin crawl, but the idea of being dared to chug sour milk or risk being impaled by a fireplace poker? Hard pass.
With that in mind, here are five other party games that Blumhouse could mine for similar thrills—so long as they know the real terrors came from human insecurity and not silly looking faces. Also, one Ringer staffer has her own uncomfortable party story to share that deserves its own commendation.
Spin the Bottle
What’s not to hate? You need a large group of your friends to sit in a circle, spin a bottle—or in 2018, there’s probably an app for that—and depending on the rules, you have to kiss the person it lands on. Have you ever played Spin the Bottle in the midst of peak facial acne and transparent braces? (A quick note: Do not get transparent braces. They are more subtle than colored braces, but if you drink coffee or soda, it looks like your teeth are stained. It’s awful and humiliating.)
Twelve-year-old me was not a fan of Spin the Bottle. Nothing says “I’m living in my own personal hell” more than being coerced into kissing your platonic female friend and getting your discolored braces stuck in their teeth, thereby ruining that friendship before you even thought about girls being cute. Sorry, sorry—I’ll bring this stuff to therapy.
Anyway, Spin the Bottle can easily be a horror movie. What if a *possessed* bottle, which some high school friends spun to kiss one another, was the catalyst for a zombie-like breakout that spread with each fatal kiss? It’s like that weird dream sequence in It Comes at Night, only freakier. Blumhouse, I’m expecting a commission—thank you.
Seven Minutes in Heaven
Seven Minutes in Heaven is like a heightened version of Spin the Bottle—instead of merely kissing someone in the confines of a group circle, you’re thrown into a closet with another person for seven minutes. There are myriad outcomes here, and all of them are weird: You could kiss someone or do something slightly more risqué in a very short amount of time, or you can both stand there awkwardly and do nothing as seven minutes feels in all likelihood like seven hours. Also, unlike Spin the Bottle, choosing who’s thrown into the closet is down to your asshole friends instead of an impartial bottle.
For a horror film, a Seven Minutes in Heaven premise could turn into something like Stephen King’s 1408: The closet itself is haunted and capable of unimaginable atrocities. Seven minutes on the outside equates to seven years of torture in the closet, where the unsuspecting victims are suddenly like, “How did this closet get so damn cold?!”
Naturally, Samuel L. Jackson will have warned the horny teens that 56 people have previously died in the closet, but they wouldn’t listen, because they are horny teens.
The most haunting aspect of Flip Cup is its simplicity. You literally have to drink some alcohol (most likely beer) out of a Solo cup, successfully flip the empty cup, and either move on to another cup or pass the drinking baton to your teammate before the other team finishes with their cups.
If only it were that simple. An arbitrary cup-flipping game, when played alongside über-competitive peers, is an absolute nightmare. Take the team scenario: Imagine your teammates have stormed to a huge, three-cup lead and left it all to you, and then you fail to flip the cup eight straight times as the other team mounts an epic comeback and eventually wins. Then those angry teammates will equate your performance to the Golden State Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead against the Cleveland Cavaliers. “You were PSG, and they were Barcelona,” your hipster, soccer-inclined friend might add.
Now, what if a game of Flip Cup turned into Saw? How difficult would it be to flip a cup if, following every unsuccessful flip, some tiny masked person on a tricycle cut off one of your fingers? And what if your angsty friend was all that stood in the way of salvation or decapitation? The last words you might hear is “Don’t blow a three-to-one …”
Twister is a multicolored Kama Sutra that requires contorting your inflexible limbs while a spinner chooses your gangly fate. It’s even weirder if one of your friends isn’t participating, but merely watching and operating the spinner as multiple limbs awkwardly press up against one another in unnatural ways.
Have you seen The Human Centipede?
Never Have I Ever
The objective of Never Have I Ever is to expose your poor life choices to people, and the game’s “winner” is more likely than not going to feel very shitty about themselves. With close friends, the game can also become turn into extremely specific targeted questions—like, “Never have I ever pissed my pants in the middle of a cross-country race, Miles,” and you decide to extend your middle finger, for some reason.
Like Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, a Never Have I Ever horror flick would need some kind of supernatural force that knows when someone is lying. Thus, the game is played with complete honesty, which, let’s be real, never happens. Choose your fate: a grisly death via chainsaw, or raise your finger and admit to everyone that the rabbit and fox leads of Disney’s Zootopia are low-key attractive. (I’m choosing the finger.)
And Now, One Good Awkward Party-Game Story
Several weeks ago, at a bachelorette party, (this is not going where you think it’s going) I played Therapy, the board game (see? phew). The bride-to-be, my friend Jess, is studying to be a therapist, and one of our other friends surprised her by buying an old 1986 copy of Therapy on eBay. Therapythegame.com tells me that more than 2 million copies of this game have been sold, which is unfortunate, because that means 2 million people have completely torn their friend circles apart.
Each player chooses a different colored game piece corresponding with a different stage of life. I chose “Cosmos,” which, sure. I cannot tell you all the rules because I immediately repressed most of this experience, but I do remember that a big part of the game is “group therapy,” where someone asks a question and each person has to write down which person in the group it would most likely apply to. Because this game was made in 1986, before Twitter, one of the questions was something along the lines of, “Which player would be most likely to sell his or her body on the street?” Suffice to say we did not finish the entire game.
The last turn before we completely gave up was mine: I landed in my friend Abby’s section, which meant she had to ask me a question and if she correctly predicted my answer, that meant I was “cured.” Again, sure. My question: “How would you classify each of the players in this game: Animal, vegetable, or mineral?” I thought about it earnestly for 30 seconds before someone, wisely, said, “Do you want to just stop playing this?” “Yes,” I said. “What a weird question. I was just going to say that we were all animals.” Abby gasped and held up her “prescription pad,” on which she’d written the word “animal” six times. I was cured. —Lindsay Zoladz