Film Review: The Lie
Director: Veena Sud
Streaming on Amazon Prime: 10.06
The month of October is upon us, and with options more more limited in terms of Halloween activities, staying home and binging on horror films is likely to be a popular choice. The scariest one by far aired live on September 29th, but for those who can’t handle more in that series, but still want to get their boo scares in, Amazon Prime is releasing an anthology of minor event freakout flicks from mega-producer Jason Blum, an event which they are calling Welcome to the Blumhouse.
The first of these films isn’t really a horror film at all, at least not in the most traditional sense, but rather a psychological thriller that plays more than a bit like an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The Lie, a remake of the German film Wir Monster, is built around the question of just how far you would go to protect your child.
Jay (Peter Sarsgaard, An Education, The Magnificent Seven) is a self-absorbed, middle-aged musician whose marriage fell apart due to his serial infidelity, and he is now the fun vacation parent to teen daughter Kayla (Joey King, The Kissing Booth) without the responsibility of having to enforce rules or ever say no. One weekend, Jay is driving Kayla to a weekend ballet retreat when they see her best friend Brittany (Devery Jacobs, American Gods) waiting at the bus stop in the snow. They offer her a ride, but when Brittany needs to make a pit stop, the only option is pulling over by the side of the road, and the two girls, who have been bickering in the car, go into the woods. When they don’t come back, Jay goes looking for them, but finds only Kayla, standing on a bridge over the river.
“I pushed her,” Kayla tells her father.
In a state of panic and denial, Jay goes to straight to see his wife, Rebecca (Mirielle Enos, The Killing, World War Z), adamant that they have take control of the situation, and it doesn’t take long at all before the two are caught in a tangled web of lies as they try to cover up their little girl’s horrific crime.
The selling point for this one is definitely the acting. King, a likable actress who has become something of a patron saint of bad teen movies, gives a strong turn as the troubled Kayla, while Enos and Sarsgard play nicely off of each other as the desperate and distraught parents who are descending deeper and deeper into a pit of their own making. And Cas Anvar (The Expanse, Room) makes a very strong impression as Brittany’s frustrated father.
Director Veena Sud (The Killing) capably builds suspense, but her screenplay is weaker than her direction. The story strains credibility at times, and the ending, though memorable, left me with a lot of nagging questions and doesn’t make a great deal of sense. It’s both the best and worst thing about the film.
It’s a middle of the road thriller that just didn’t quite work for me, but there’s just enough in The Lie to get you thinking and maybe even doing a little soul searching. Whether it’s a very weak success or an interesting failure depends on what you tell yourself, and on that level, the movie echoes its own themes in an almost eerie way. Keep your expectations in check and you may find it worth your time. –Patrick Gibbs