Dare Contrives Unlikely High School Character Arcs


In the high school world of Dare, the theater-geek turns out to be kinky, the asshole cool-kid reveals great reservoirs of sensitivity, and the maladjusted gay teen is, well, pretty much just a maladjusted gay teen. This last figure aside, unexpected character arcs are the order of the day in Adam Salky’s stilted drama, though the film’s tripartite structure, which fatally divvies up its already limited screen time between its central trio, ensures that these character’s quick-change acts register as little more than the dramatically implausible contrivances they so clearly are. The least credible of these transformations finds prudish drama girl Alexa seducing her hunky Streetcar Named Desire co-star, Johnny, in an ultimate bit of method preparation. From here, the film turns into a romantic roundelay, with Alexa and her childhood best bud, Ben, hot to fuck Johnny, who views both as just friends—surrogates (groan) for his absent family. Johnny’s confusion (unlike that of his lovers) is at least vaguely convincing, but Zach Gilford’s game performance is still no match for the film’s catalog of easy ironies, awkward framings, and advice on how to play Blanche DuBois cribbed from season 4, episode 2 of The Simpsons.