Movie Review: The Lie

The Lie is a film about a divorced couple who coparent their teenage daughter. As Jay drives his daughter, Kayla, to a weekend retreat for her dance school, they find Kayla's friend Britney waiting at a bus stop. They drive for a while and then have to stop so Britney can relieve herself. That's when everything goes wrong and Jay has to enlist his ex-wife Rebecca to cover up what Kayla did. The film stars Peter Sarsgaard, Mireille Enos, Joey King, Cas Anvar, Patti Kim, Nicholas Lea, and Devery Jacobs. The film is written and directed by Veena Sud. The film is streaming as part of Amazon Prime's showcase, Welcome to the Blumhouse.


Teenagers are such idiots. I know that and you know that because we were teenagers once (I assume no preteens or current teenagers are reading this). Yet, every time I think they can't do something more idiotic than the last fictional representation of teenagers I've seen, there's another one. It doesn't help that parents are idiots when it comes to their children. I'm sorry parents, but you know it's true and that's not always a bad thing, here, it is.


Case in point, Rebecca is a lawyer. Rebecca used to work homicide cases for the police. Rebecca is also not at all thinking like either one of those things. She and Jay sloppily, clumsily, irrationally attempt to cover for Kayla. Everything about her and Jay's plans are reacting in ways she knows that the police will suspect she will react if cornered as she is. I don't understand the motivation of the family in going off half-cocked except that there's this suspicion lingering underneath.


Jay immediately jumps to the conclusion that Kayla's a sociopath. He gathers her erratic behavior in his head and he becomes an armchair psychotherapist. Especially as evidence mounts of Kayla's mental state when he sees the fresh scars from her cutting herself. Though, when I realized the twist at the end of the film, the thing that makes this more or a horror film than an overwrought melodrama, it makes me see Jay's point of view and realize that many of us as teenagers had some very sociopathic tendencies.


Like many films I don't like, the film itself isn't poorly made. The Lie is made by professionals and Veena Sud has an excellent eye for detail that makes me very interested to see where her career goes in the future. What I think is lost is something in the edit. Tension is built at the wrong moments, there is a single jump scare that appears for no reason, and the film feels like it's missing certain pieces to make some scenes have coherence. The red herrings go too far and the actual justifications for action are sometimes muddled. We needed more of Kayla's point of view because the point of view of the parents doesn't make a ton of sense.


I wasn't enamored with the acting of any one professional in the film, but I was fascinated by the character Barnes played by Nicholas Lea. Lea has been in films and movies for a few decades, he's a reliable character actor, but I'm so curious what direction he got with regards to this character. Every interaction Barnes has with another character is immediately antagonistic. He's that hotheaded cop who goes for the jugular, but he goes for the jugular with every interrogation and it would be comical if it weren't so confounding. I guess Barnes is just mad at the world.


When I saw this film under the banner of the "Welcome to the Blumhouse" label, I expected some spooky stuff. I will admit, for the first twenty minutes I kept expecting a specter to be waiting at the top of the stairs or a bloody person to come into the house looking for revenge, but The Lie isn't that. It's a domestic horror that's M. Night Shyamalan light and an unexciting, un-technologically based Black Mirror episode. This is one you can skip especially if you're looking for something more ghostly this spooky season.

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