Review: ‘Dangerous Lies,’- a slow burn that mostly fizzles

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Dangerous Lies
Dangerous Lies is a Netflix original movie starring Camila Mendes, Jessie T. Usher, and Sasha Alexander. Katie and her husband Adam are a struggling couple trying to make ends meet. While her husband looks for work she serves as a caregiver to a kindhearted elderly man. When her charge suddenly dies she finds herself inheriting a nice house. But there may be more to this house than she bargained for.

Dangerous Lies tries hard to create an air of suspense as it slowly builds to its conclusion. As Katie attempts to adapt to the changing circumstances around her, she is left wondering who she can truly trust. And while little is done wrong in this pursuit, little is done right beyond the textbook definition of how to make a movie. Let me explain…

Let’s start with Dangerous Lies‘ plot. Katie(Mendes) and her husband Adam(Usher) are struggling to make ends meet. While she works as a caretaker he is struggling to find work. He even had to drop out of grad school due to money and now those student loans are coming around. Viewers get a brief glimpse into their past together before their current situation, and it’s apparent that this young couple has always struggled to make ends meet. Adam’s thinly veiled disgust and frustration at their living situation is well done and creates the proper motivation for both of the characters to behave as they do throughout the movie.

The failure in this setup is that it feels a little too textbook. Adam shifts between dismissing anything Katie says to promising to be supportive of how she wants to handle things. Katie’s aggravation with Adam’s behavior is almost as frustrating for the viewer as it is for her. I quickly found myself expressing audible frustration with why Katie even trusts him when he never willingly does what she asks. Does it create tension? Yes. But they push this so hard that my sympathy dwindled quickly as misplaced trust was rewarded with the same dismissive attitude over and over. It is a solid idea to create tension between the two main characters but is repeated so much it’s like it is the only move the story has sometimes.

I can’t go too deeply into the nature of things with Katie’s charge without brushing against spoilers, but again it is handled well. The kindly old man who wants to help the nice young lady that has been taking care of him feels genuine. His kindness helps sell a bit of believability to the following chain of events after his sudden death. There are few twists here as the story unfolds, but not anything strong enough to pull the story outside of the average that it finds itself in.

Dangerous Lies

The last primary player in the story is Detective Chesler(Alexander). As odd occurrences continue to pile up,  Chesler quickly realizes something more is going on than what she’s been told. Alexander’s performance was perhaps the best in the movie. While she doesn’t bring as much force to the determined cop role as others might have, I appreciated her subtly. Trying to strong-arm someone who has is in over their head can just spook or scare them. Plus, by being more sympathetic Alexander sells Chesler as an officer who just genuinely cares about Katie’s well being. But even with this strong performance, Chesler never really is able to shine. Why? Because of the other areas, the movie feels to simply be going through its paces. Music and cinematography.

Dangerous Lies’ ability to build its atmosphere, like all movies, is as much done by its score and camera work, as it is by the acting. These supporting elements are often overlooked by those watching a movie. But, as they say, you never fully appreciate what you have till it’s gone. This statement is brought into stark relief in this story.

Both of the aforementioned elements plays it so safe that they almost become nonexistent. When tense moments came up, I can remember not a single note that heightened my experience. Nor was there a stifling silence present to bear down the moments weight on me either. There was sound, and it didn’t disrupt, but nor did it elevate. The same goes for the camera work as well.

Every camera angle and shot does a good job of showing its story. But to create tension and drama you must do more than just show a story. The audience must be made to feel in the middle of it. We have to feel as trapped as our protagonist. Feel the weight of their struggle. The camera must put the viewer in this space. It must compel us to feel what is happening beyond just viewing it. Alas, this does not occur with Dangerous Lies.

Even the ending of this tale, which didn’t end how I expected, failed to deliver with enough punch to leave me on an up note. How the pieces came together was clever, but delivered in such a way that all the tension or surprise was wasted upon the final reveal.

So while Dangerous Lies doesn’t really fail at doing much of what it tries to do, it never really succeeds either. It delivers a story, with some solid twists, and decent performances, that never truly grow beyond the mediocre.

Dangerous Lies is available exclusively on Netflix.

Dangerous Lies
  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10
6/10

TL;DR

So while Dangerous Lies doesn’t really fail at doing much of what it tries to do, it never really succeeds either. It delivers a story, with some solid twists, and some decent performances that never truly grows beyond the mediocre.