The Lie follows a divorced couple as they try to cover up for their teenage daughter after she is responsible for an accident that led to her friend's death. As the lies pile up, the parents must decide just how far they are willing to go to protect their daughter from her own sins.
The Lie Review
Let's get this out of the way now...The Lie is not a horror film. It is, at most, a mild thriller that a good portion of the family could sit back and watch. Despite a semi-morbid (and familiar) plot, there isn't much that makes it to screen, both in violence and atmospheric intensity. The worst it gets for most of the runtime is a desperate father doing his best Harrison Ford impression; grabbing people's arms and screaming about where his daughter is. The rest of the tension is more somber and depressing, as a family in over their heads ineptly tries to protect themselves from justified scrutiny.
Movies like this are difficult for me to wrap my brain around. Not because it's too complex (it definitely isn't that), but because I struggle with whether there is any one to cheer for. Horror arguably tackles the widest spectrum of morality compared to any other genre of film. Sometimes the character dynamics are so muddled, you aren't sure if anyone is justified in their actions. The story's direction begs the question, "does anybody deserve to live?" And often times, comeuppance is properly dealt out (unless, of course, there is another morbid moral lesson to be played). But in films like The Lie, where the goal is solely for guilty people to cover up their offense, I sincerely struggle to justify my interest. I don't feel sorry for anyone. I don't want them to succeed. But the director desperately wants me to feel both of those things. I just can't get there.
Some of these films are incredibly well-made. Calibre is an example. But even that movie was difficult for me to tolerate because I had no care for the protagonist's success in getting away with murder. It is so incredibly difficult to balance empathy with guilt in these films, and this is a significant struggle in The Lie. The empathy is clearly reserved for the mourning father of the friend who is desperately seeking answers, so there is little left for two tortured parents trying to cover up for their unhinged daughter.
This was the first of the Amazon Prime Original/Blumhouse films I've seen, and I suppose I was expecting a more intense or horror/thriller-oriented experience. I did, admittedly, pick the most mild of the synopses available because of the company I was with at the time, but I was still expecting a bit...more...in intrigue at the very least.
The characters also behave annoyingly stupid and adjacent to their structure on the regular, leading to moments that make no sense when seen within the context of the whole film. The purest drama of the film focused around the broken family is the most effective element, but that doesn't participate in the core of the movie's attempted thrills, so there is an emotional disconnect that doesn't form until the waning moments, and by then it's awkward and tardy.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 5/10
Horror Quality: 2/10
Film Quality: 5/10