Review by Sean Boelman
Although Blumhouse is primarily known for their work in low-budget horror, the company also makes thrillers and other horror-adjacent movies with great stories to tell. Veena Sud’s The Lie, part of the Amazon anthology Welcome to the Blumhouse, is one such film, and while it can feel slightly maudlin at times, an unpredictably twisty narrative will keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
The movie follows a family who finds themselves in crisis when their daughter makes an atrocious mistake, causing them to spin an increasingly complex web of lies. Based on a German film, We Monsters, much of this plays out like a very conventional (albeit well acted) thriller with a melodramatic edge, but an entertaining and satisfying one at that.
It is when the movie hits its Shyamalan-level twists that it is most impressive. Admittedly, the film does use these shocking reveals as a crutch to make up for otherwise lacking character development, though it also feels like a very natural and fulfilling resolution to the suspense that builds up to that point.
As the title implies, the movie’s main themes explore the virtues of trust and honesty. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, and perhaps more effectively, but the context in which Sud presents it is definitely compelling. That said, the subtext about family is underdeveloped and shallow, even to the point of perpetuating some harmful myths.
Although Joey King, who plays the daughter of the family, is being marketed as the star because of her popularity among teen audiences, this story is more about the parents and the emotions they are going through, and their arcs are extremely compelling. But when Sud tries to tie them together, it feels mostly underwhelming.
Peter Sarsgaard and Mireille Enos give great performances in their lead roles. Sarsgaard in particular is excellent, bringing a lot of emotion to the role. His turn isn’t particularly subtle, but neither is the material, so it fits rather well. King once again shows that she is a mostly one-note actress, or at least has been significantly typecast, although she is very good at playing that specific character.
On a technical level, the film is sadly a bit lacking, although everything is mostly competent. Everything about the visuals look and feel gray and unwelcoming. There are some moments that utilize the cinematic medium to build suspense relatively well, but for the most part, it is the script that does the heavy lifting.
The Lie is an entertaining little thriller, and while it may not be the most original example of the genre, it’s well-acted and benefits from a truly unexpected ending. Even though it falls apart when put under a microscope, the way in which it catches you off-guard is a satisfying experience.
The Lie streams on Amazon Prime beginning October 6.