Paranoia, with a side of underlying dread, is a dish best served cold. As in a cold sweat. Like, if you’re attempting to escape a serial killer and you know your enemy is watching, but you can’t see them. Your adrenaline is flowing and you’ll do whatever it takes to survive the night (or the situation), against all odds. But what if that enemy never shows? What if the terror was inside your head the entire time and nothing really develops from that storyline? Is that enough of a plot device for a two-hour film? Blumhouse Productions attempts to explore that concept in The Lie.
Growing up is rough for Kayla, a 15-year-old girl whose parents are going through a divorce and the boys at her high school aren’t noticing her. So, when she and her best friend devise a fiendish scheme, she doesn’t realize the impending harsh consequences that lie around the corner. After said event transpires, Kayla’s parents are drawn together, in an effort to protect their daughter. Going through the trauma, they’re just trying to get on with their lives… until another complication arrives. Followed by another.
If that sounds rather vague, I apologize, but I’m trying to tread lightly without revealing any spoilers.
Throughout it all, I kept expecting the Big Bad to arrive as the main characters constantly believe that someone is watching them. After a while, the anticipation evaporates, due to the story’s extremely slow burn. What the viewer is left with is nothing more than a rebellious teen living within a dysfunctional family. This is absolutely not a slasher film, it’s a family drama with a solid heaping of psychological horror.
The majority of the movie is spent unpeeling the daughter’s personality while delving into her friend’s family life, not necessarily keeping the story moving. Kayla’s a loner, she doesn’t have a lot of sense and questions how to undo something bad that she’s done, not quite getting the big picture of life. Around an hour into this film (out of 135 minutes), she finally admits to being a terrible person and to paraphrase the great Roger Rabbit film, she’s not bad… she’s just written that way. She is an unlikable character that really didn’t have a lot of development in the script. I’m not sure actress Joey King did the character any favors, as I was constantly rooting against her the entire time.
I vaguely remember seeing actor Peter Sarsgaard in Garden State waaaaaaaaaay back in 2004 and surprisingly, I’ve not seen him in any other production since then. He does well with his role as the father here. I really enjoyed seeing Nicolas Lea from The X-Files appear in a supporting role as an aggressive detective, trying to piece together the crime. Looking a little older with some shades of grey in his hair, it was great to see him in a “good guy” role after being anything but in the spooky series.
The one thing that I took away from watching this film was the growing pain that arrives when you know someone has gotten themselves in way too deep, continuously digging a hole for themselves that they may never escape. There’s no right way to fix the situation and a series of bad decisions leads to an impending terrible conclusion. These are fractured characters, terrorized by their inner demons, living in fear. Cleaning up after your kids can REALLY get down-right messy. It’s a dangerous business, to say the least.
I was surprised to learn this was an adaptation of the German movie, Wir Monster, which itself was based on the real-life Amanda Knox story. I would never have guessed it. The truth can be stranger than fiction. And this fiction seemed to be never ending. It’s not the worst movie ever, but with some tighter direction and a faster-moving storyline, maybe I could have enjoyed it. But neither of those options actually happened. The outcome was definitely not what I was expecting. While that’s not always a bad thing, this time, it could have been greatly improved…
The Lie is currently available on Amazon Prime.