Dare was originally a 2005 short film by Director Adam Salky and Writer David Brind, I guess I’m going to start this off by saying that the short film was very well done. The simple plot had me hoping for what was next and the performance were good for such a small film. It definitely had me wanting more and when I heard that it had been made into a feature film, I was more than excited to see it.
First off the cast was changed and characters were, of course, expanded on. In the short the two leads were the bad boy named Johnny and the shy loser named Ben. The 2009 version starred a partially talented trio, with the role of Johnny played by Zach Gilford, Ashley Springer as Ben, and a somewhat new character named Alexa played by Emmy Rossum. The story now has turned into more of a coming of age / teen drama that splits our focus by trying to develop each character with their own portion of the film. The deal is that geeky and unpopular friends Ben and Alexa fall for the school’s resident bad boy Johnny, who is dealing with his own demons. Things get complicated as both go pretty far with Johnny and he isn’t picking favorites. Confusion and chaos ensue.
As much as I wanted to love this film I didn’t. While the short left me wanting more, the feature left me wanting something different. There is potential with what the filmmakers were trying to do, but it’s sad that it wound up on the disappointing side of things. I’ll start with the fairly bad bits…
Ashley Springer delivered a let down of a performance as Ben. The character, which was suppose to be your typical unpopular geek, turned out to be kind of a creeper. His mannerisms, they way he talked, everything was really off putting. I’m guessing he was badly casted because the orignal Ben was a 100% better. They also could have written him a bit better.
Next there was Alexa’s change from loser to poser. It was all a bit rough and way too quick. The filmmakers seemed to have wedged this plot point in even though they knew the piece didn’t fit.
Both Ben’s and Alexa’s character didn’t really do it for me, but here is the film’s saving grace: Zach Gilford.
The performance, the character, the looks… all dare I say perfect? It kind of caught me off guard that he would be the single epic thing in this lackluster film. Zach’s Johnny was a not-so-bad bad boy with a lot of issues that instead of being overdone or annoying, were actually endearing and made you actually give a shit. Could we please just fix this film to have Johnny as the feature focus?, because that’s were the magic is happening. Just like the short, Zach Gilford’s portrayal and the filmmaker’s character itself left me wanting more, more about him, what is he going to do? What happened? Loads of things. His sensitive demur and likable quality alone steal the film and boosts the grade to a very-on-the-edge C. All in all I’d recommend seeing this for the sake of seeing Zach Gilford and his character Johnny so you too can imagine what a better feature this short could have been.
Watch The Original Short Film
See The Feature Film via Netflix