Combustible Celluloid
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With: Peter Sarsgaard, Mireille Enos, Joey King, Cas Anvar, Patti Kim, Nicholas Lea, Devery Jacobs
Written by: Veena Sud, based on a film by Marcus Seibert, Sebastian Ko
Directed by: Veena Sud
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, some violence and brief sexuality
Running Time: 97
Date: 10/06/2020

The Lie (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Bridge Toll

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Producer Jason Blum and his production company Blumhouse have become household names among horror fans, and their penchant for producing low-budget hits has resulted in movies and franchises ranging from Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Happy Death Day, to the acclaimed Get Out.

Now, in a perfect pandemic move, the company has given us "Welcome to the Blumhouse," a series of four genre films available to subscribers of Amazon Prime.

The third and fourth, Evil Eye and Nocturne will drop on October 13, while the first two, Black Box and The Lie debuted Tuesday, October 6.

Neither of the first two films totally qualifies as pure "horror." Black Box is more science fiction, while The Lie is mostly a thriller without any supernatural elements.

Directed and co-written by Veena Sud (best known for developing the excellent TV series The Killing), The Lie uses its wintry mood to brilliantly bleak advantage.

A father, Jay (Peter Sarsgaard), drives his teen daughter Kayla (Joey King) through the snow, to a dance camp.

Kayla spots her friend Brittany (Devery Jacobs) waiting for a bus, heading for the same camp, so they stop and pick her up. Brittany flirts a little with Jay, and they all stop for a bladder-relief break.

Jay waits alone by the car, but time passes. He goes to investigate and finds Kayla standing on an icy bridge, sobbing, and looking at the lethal river below. Apparently Brittany has gone over, and apparently, Kayla pushed her.

Snatching the only clue, Brittany's pink purse, Jay decides to protect his daughter above all else and leaves the scene without calling the police.

A distraught Kayla tells her mother, Rebecca (Mireille Enos, from The Killing), who is divorced from Jay, bringing her into the conspiracy. Jay becomes a regular fixture in their house as the trio tries to stick to their story, despite the prying of Brittany's anxious father (Cas Anvar) and two nosy detectives.

Along with creating such a vivid atmosphere, director Sud builds in honest histories, personalities, and behaviors for each character, and coaxes excellent performances from the entire cast.

The Lie is a sturdy thriller, starting from the point of an almost perfect crime. There are no witnesses, and no one even has to know that Kayla was ever there. But the cracks emerge a little at a time, along with the suspense. And the ending will likely have some jaws hitting the floor.

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