Blumhouse’s second of four movies arriving on Amazon Prime this month is “The Lie”, a remake of the 2015 German Film “Wir Monster.” The screenplay, adapted by director Veena Sud, is a psychological thriller that explores how far people are willing to go to keep their family together. It’s a familiar premise but with a few notable surprises.
The movie opens with one of those montages that show how perfect and loving their early family life was. Jay (Peter Sarsgaard) and Rebecca (Mireille Enos) are seen laughing and frolicking with their darling daughter, Kayla (Joey King) over the years. It’s the kind of montage that guarantees something terrible is going to happen to them. They’re just too happy. Indeed, as the memories end and we catch up with them in the present, something terrible already has happened, at least in 15-year-old Kayla’s eyes. Her parents have divorced, and both have new, apparently serious, lovers. She spends her time between the two, keeping each other’s relationship secrets.
It’s Jay’s weekend, and he’s driving Kayla up to a ballet retreat. On the way, they see Kayla’s friend, Britney (Devery Jacobs) standing at a bus stop. Britney is attending the same retreat, so they offer her a ride. In the middle of nowhere, Britney convinces Jay to pull the car over, since there isn’t another rest stop for an hour. Kayla and Britney jump out, head into the forest, and are gone for a disturbingly long time. When Jay finally goes searching for them, he hears a blood-curdling scream and finds Kayla alone on a bridge crying. She immediately confesses that in a fit of anger, she pushed Britney into the icy river below.
Thus begins the family’s self-destructive spiral down into a pit of lies. What makes it interesting is instead of the estranged parents blaming each other, they decide to work together and protect the one thing they care about most, their daughter. The more lies they tell to everyone else, the more they trust and rely on each other. It’s a fascinating dynamic to watch unfold, and it presents an emotional quandary to each of them. Kayla may have done something absolutely horrible, but as a result, she may get what she wants more than anything else, her parents reunited.
The script follows some familiar paths, but it’s (anxiety-ridden) fun to watch the characters try to outthink others, mess up off-the-cuff lies, and subsequently try to wiggle out of their mistakes. The performances are good but occasionally dip into melodrama, which is right at home in a film like this. At a crisp 97 minutes long, it is the perfect length even if the pacing feels a bit slow at times. It allows the tension to breathe without letting the movie drag on too long.