Welcome back to the Blumhouse. In the last installment of this ongoing series, I looked over Black Box, a well-made yet redundant film that didn’t entirely deliver on its intriguing setup. The Lie, on the other hand, lives up to its disturbing premise, which feels grounded in real-world horror. The experience of this film is like watching somebody dig their own grave. Instead of accepting the inevitable, they attempt to dig themselves out of the mess they’ve made, which only makes the situation worse. Even when they’re up to their neck in soil, the digger keeps trying to find an escape route to no avail.
You might recognize Joey King from lighter fare like Summer ’03 and those Kissing Booth films. If her Emmy-nominated performance as Gypsy Rose Blanchard on The Act proved anything, though, it’s that she’s full of potential just waiting to be unleashed. We see that potential in The Lie where she stars as Kayla, a bratty teenager who’s reluctant to attend a dance retreat. One of the reasons that Kayla is so crabby is because her parents got divorced not too long ago. Mireille Enos plays her career woman mother, Rebecca, and Peter Sarsgaard stars as her music entrepreneur father, Jay.
On the way to the retreat, Jay unexpectedly picks up Kayla’s friend Brittany (Devery Jacobs). Kayla and Brittany insist that Jay pull over nearby an icy river, but something goes wrong. When Jay finds Kayla screaming on the ledge of a bride, Brittany is nowhere to be found. Kayla says that she pushed her and the body seemingly got washed away. As Brittany’s father (Cas Anvar) begins sniffing around, Jay and Rebecca are brought back together in a desperate attempt to keep Kayla out of prison.
For its first two-thirds, The Lie is enthralling. The very idea is enough to make the audience whiter than a ghost. That’s because it could happen to virtually anybody, especially an immature teenager. Enos and Sarsgaard are utterly convincing as two parents who are willing to do anything to protect their daughter. As they take greater measures to save her, though, Kayla becomes increasingly desensitized to the situation. One day after pushing her friend, Kayla is sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons. Is this denial or a teenage sociopath? Everything becomes clear in the final five minutes, which are bound to divide audiences.
For some, the ending will be the cherry on top of a gut-wrenching sundae. For others, it’ll be too preposterous to swallow. For me, the resolution was chilling to the core, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t come off as forced. A few scenes needed to be altered and added to make the ending truly feel earned. Even with these reservations, The Lie is a thrilling addition to the Welcome to the Blumhouse anthology. The best has yet to come, however.
The Lie releases on Amazon on Tuesday, October 6.