This Blumhouse Thriller Takes Deception to New Heights


The big picture

  • film by director Veena Sud,
    The Lie
    presents a twisted web of lies amidst a chilling atmosphere.
  • The film delves into deception and psychopathy, raising a nuanced question about the characters' motives.
  • Despite the logical flaws,
    The Lie
    it creates an exciting atmosphere and offers a powerful and unexpected final twist.

Critically, director South Veena's The Lie he builds a tangled web of lies that lacks credibility and forms the basis of the most absurd decisions shown in a film. However, between the chilling atmosphere and the nuanced acting, this thriller from Blumhouse is still worth another look. Marketed as horror, there is only one truly horrifying moment in the sardonic twist at the end, while the meat of the film builds towards a thriller.

Although The Lie falls short of its main theme of “how far will parents go to protect their children” given the succession of horrific decisions made by the privileged family, it veers slightly into the realm of “are they all psychopaths?” As such, it does not only The Lie they exhibit extensive forms of deception, however the film itself deceives us through its proclaimed genre and primary thematic concern. Whether this was on purpose or just a happy accident combined with the stellar acting and visual aesthetic, discovering this elevates how the film is perceived and makes it that much more captivating.

The Lie

A father and daughter are on their way to dance camp when they see the girl's best friend on the side of the road. When they stop to offer their friend a ride, their good intentions soon have dire consequences.

Publication date
October 6, 2018

South Veena

Execution time
97 minutes

Main genre

Sebastian Ko, Markus Seibert, Veena Sud

It was an accident

What is 'The Lie' about?

The Lie follows the story of a divorced couple trying to cover up their daughter's horrific, murderous or accidental actions. On her way to dance camp, Kayla (Joey King) convinces his father, Jay (Peter Sarsgaard) to pick up her best friend Brittany (Devery Jacobs) on the side of the road. During a brief stop near a bridge, disaster strikes when Kayla accidentally (or intentionally) pushes Brittany into the icy depths of the river. Instead of calling the police or spending a lot of time trying to find Brittany, Jay immediately grabs Kayla and runs away, leading to the first mistake that makes both of them accomplices in the case of their disappearance and that catalyzes a series of lies to cover up the crime.

Kayla's mother and Jay's ex-wife Rebecca (Mireille Enos) are unwittingly linked to the crime and end up taking the most proactive stance by spearheading a campaign against Brittany's father (Case Anvar). As a white, upper-middle-class family, blaming a person of color and a single parent using domestic abuse as a weapon is utterly disgusting and malicious, but it's also one of the few lies that is disturbingly realistic. In a nightmare scenario like this, he is reduced to the easy target. From fake doctor appointments to burying a broken phone, the deceptions continued to increase until it culminated in the death of Brittany's father via a very frustrated Rebecca at the wheel. But this intense scene pales in comparison to the final punch.

Joey King is a psychopath in 'The Lie'

While the plot is awash in unnecessary lies, the nuanced acting of the cast relieves us of the redundancy. In particular, King steals the show as he flits between angst and petulance, completely nailing the role of an immature teenager. He recalls his innovative role in The kissing booth, as he makes childish decisions and regrets the consequences, but mixed in with a healthy dose of psychopathy. Between her hushed anguish as she seemingly digests her actions and her indifference as she watches TV after murdering her friend, her conflicted sides are equal parts disturbing and frustrating. This is especially present in her later breakdown where she writhes on the floor claiming that she is a terrible person just to distract her parents from their argument. King's powerful performance that makes Kayla loathsome, yet human, helps with the believability of the final deception.

Meanwhile, Sarsgaard and Enos also flip between the human and the sociopathic, albeit in a more subtle way. while Enos plays a role with more agency as Rebecca uses her connections and reputation to get ahead of the cover-up, Sarsgaard goes into spectator mode as it simply witnesses and slightly stimulates events to take place. Torment and fear are etched into both of their expressions at every point in the film, but they steadily move towards tangled lies. Despite all the arguments and all the expressions of guilt, there is a sense of resolution underlying their plan. It's this baffling disconnect between their emotions and their decisions that makes them terribly human but also slightly sociopathic.

As such, while the nonsensical decisions that were made undermine the seemingly overarching theme of parents going to extremes to protect their child, the characters themselves offer an intriguing question of whether or not they are psychopaths. It's like they're not only fooling the characters in the movie, they're trying to fool us as well. They are parents who have been twisted in extraordinary circumstances, or is it just a catalyst that is turning on some weird inherited psychopathic gene in the family? It is only at the end that this question comes true.

'The lie' creates an exciting atmosphere

Peter Sarsgaard as Jay with Joey King as Kayla in The Lie 2018.
Image via Amazon MGM Studios

Although there are moments The Lie that take us out of the film and make us question the logic of the decisions made, the electrifying tension brings us back inside. With snowy settings and eerily empty suburbs, the cold tones of the scenes make us feel as desperate as the panicked family. This contrasts particularly well with the warmer scenes of Rebecca and Jay bonding, deftly placing us in Kayla's perspective and foreshadowing her motivations in the final reveal. This coldness combined with the jarring dissonance of the quiet and soundscapes makes us feel like we're walking on eggshells next to our parents.

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Even the glacial pacing of the narrative, which is generally considered a flaw, works in this film. When braking, The Lie it hones in on the emotions of the characters, which is only possible with a captivating cast. From the fear, worry and concern for the daughter's future to the tantalizing pain evoked when the boy in the opening credits dies on the bridge, each sudden outburst amplifies the tense atmosphere while creating impatience. As we wade through the pools of emotional intensity, we are constantly anticipating the collapse of the web of lies, making the horrific punch of the final revelation all the more powerful.

'The final twist in the lie plot is powerful

Joey King as Kayla in The Lie 2018.
Image via Amazon MGM Studios

Although the final plot twist The Lie Often ridiculed, the power of having such an outrageous lie is that we also feel the knife sinking into parents' guts as they discover the truth. If you haven't seen the movie yet, go watch it now and come back for that jaw-dropping ending. If you have, you know the feeling when your stomach drops when you find out that, like Kayla's parents, have we put up with all the ridiculous deceptions for nothing? Turns out the titular lie wasn't “it never happened, we were never there,” but “it is.” never The stark contrast between the bloody murder of Brittany's father and Brittany walking through the door while explaining that she had been with her boyfriend in a noncommittal tone leaves everyone completely speechless and outraged. It seems like such a gimmicky ending, but the moments that follow completely flip the script.

After Jay and Rebecca confront Kayla, she reveals that she committed to the lie because she enjoyed spending time with two parents who went back to work together. As police lights and sirens engulf them through the window, the three experience an intimate and unique moment of compassion and empathy as they know they are sentenced to prison. There is also a skillful reversal of roles. We initially believed that Kayla had committed murder, making her subsequent actions seem psychopathic, but now that we know it was all manipulation, she seems more sociopathic. On the other hand, Jay and Rebecca started out sociopaths due to their disconnection, but now lean towards psychopathy as they finally connect with their daughter after a murder (not to mention the his lack of self-preservation at the time). This ending returns to the aforementioned question raised: Are they now a traumatized family or a newly damaged one?

As part of the “Welcome to Blumhouse” series of eight films in 2020 and 2021, The Lie was included in the previous four films that explored “family and love as redemptive or destructive.” Released next door Osei-Kudfour Jr's Black Box, The Lie gives us hope that Jason Blum will occasionally venture into the realm of quiet thrillers. While it doesn't do what it ostensibly set out to do, the film succeeds with dynamic characters, a tense viewing experience, and an unexpected theme of psychopathy, essentially becoming the ultimate hoax.

The Lie is available to watch now on Prime Video in the US



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