Writers: Veena Sud (written for the screen by), Marcus Seibert (based on the film “Wir Monster” written by), Sebastian Ko (based on the film “Wir Monster” written by)
Stars: Joey King, Peter Sarsgaard, Mireille Enos
By Tom Moore
Being stuck on the shelf since it debuted at Toronto Film Festival back in 2018, Blumhouse has finally decided to let the latest film from writer/director Veena Sud, “The Lie”, loose through a multi-film deal with Amazon. The film, a remake of the German film “We Monsters”, follows parents Jay (Peter Sarsgaard) and Rebecca (Mireille Enos) as their love for their daughter Kayla (Joey King) after she makes a lethal mistake. “The Lie” is essentially the same kind of story we’ve seen in stuff like “Defending Jacob” – a teenager is suspected of doing something wrong, usually murder, and the parents are forced to do everything in their power to prove their innocence and keep them safe. It’s a test of how far parents are willing to go to protect their kids when they’re suspected of something that could put their entire life in jeopardy.
Generally, even though these characters act within an ethically gray area, the film finds ways for viewers to sympathize with them by giving viewers a glimpse of a more innocent family life before things took a bad turn. It creates a strong, empathetic connection that makes the characters being broken down much more impactful. With “The Lie”, however, the film never creates any kind of empathy for viewers to have for its characters as the setup is painfully thin and the characters are absolutely despicable.
Photo Credit: Blumhouse Productions, MAD DOG FILMS
Aside from a very short opening of home video footage of better times, this family never feels like a family. Obviously, with Jay and Rebecca being divorced and Kayla not being a big fan of them being in new relationships, there’s going to be some tension. However, these are the only things we get to know about this family as we’re just immediately thrown into Kayla’s fatal action and their actions to cover it up become their personalities. Jay is immediately frustrating with how he instantly wants to cover everything up and Rebecca is caught up with how she just doesn’t want to be a part of this. These are the kind of characters that let their flaws dictate their actions and rather than want to see the best possible outcome for them, you just hope for the worst.
“The film never creates any kind of empathy for viewers to have for its characters as the setup is painfully thin and the characters are absolutely despicable.”
Speaking of the worst, Kayla is easily the most unlikable and annoying character I’ve seen in quite some time. She’s literally bi-polar and fake as hell with how she’s crying one minute like her whole life is ruined and then the next she wants everything to be happy and normal. There’s a point where she’s says how she feels like a terrible person and it’s was nearly impossible for me not to exclaim “yeah, you really are.” She constantly looking for sympathy she doesn’t deserve, her parents hold her on a pedestal she doesn’t belong on, and she holds zero remorse for her actions. All of the film’s attempts to make you feel bad for Kayla, which includes the ending that this film throws away for an awful twist, utterly fail as she’s just impossible to empathize with.
Outside of the leading trio, none of the other supporting characters are given a better treatment as they’re generally just as annoying and unlikable as the protagonist family. There’s a cop who’s just extra in being suspicious of everyone he talks to, the father of the Kayla’s friend is a total jerk who acts as much of a psychopath as Jay and Rebecca do, Kayla’s friend barely acts like a friend. Obviously, some of these things aren’t too unusual since the dad of Kayla’s friend is desperately looking for answers about the whereabouts of his daughter and not finding anything. However, it always takes things too far and heightens the emotions and actions to overdramatic levels that take away from the realism of the film. It’s just hard to take anything seriously and without any real build-up, it’s like the film is trying to force feelings onto you.
“The Lie” misses the mark completely in trying to create a complex and remotely compelling story about how far parents will go to protect their kids as its horrible characters make it an enjoyable mess.”
When the film is trying to showcase that Jay and Rebecca are mending their relationship, it’s hard to care about or want to see it happen because you’ve rarely seen them be good throughout the film. It’s like what I said before about how all we do is see them do distrustful and dishonest things, so you never want to see them succeed. So, whenever the film tries to make you sympathize with or get behind the main family, it comes off incredibly un-genuine and like the film is trying to shove you into a corner and tell you how to feel. It makes the experience totally unenjoyable and with nothing really drawing you into the characters, it’s becomes easier and easier to detach from the film the longer it goes on.
“The Lie” misses the mark completely in trying to create a complex and remotely compelling story about how far parents will go to protect their kids as its horrible characters make it an enjoyable mess. Blumhouse has dished out some great horror/thriller hits over the years, “The Lie” is not one of them.