What was the point? Was that really as bad as it looked? Two questions I asked immediately upon seeing the end credits flash up on screen. Netflix do great TV shows, but it seems they have a long way to go for movies.
Dangerous Lies is a mystery-thriller with one of the most unsatisfying endings I have ever seen. It begins with a cliché – a caregiver (Katie) unexpectedly inherits the estate of her employer (Leonard) after his sudden death. Her boyfriend (Adam), having been turned down for one to many graduate jobs, is a bit too keen to move in and start spending some of the late Leonard’s cash.
What follows is, until the final moments, a head-scratching, eery, mystery. Anonymous phone-calls. A dodgy realtor. A suspicious police detective. And an increasingly anxious Adam. But then it all just goes… bad? Threads are pulled together by way of extreme assumption and implication which is so far-fetched as to be wholly unsatisfying for any mystery fan. Some red herrings are left completely unresolved, surely a crime against mystery story-telling. This trail of disappointment culminates in a rushed ending where, and I don’t normally do spoilers in this blog but it seems apt here, three key characters are shot and killed in the space of a few minutes. Yeah – it just fell completely flat.
One thing I will give the movie credit for, although I’m not sure it deserves it as it’s probably unintentional, is the world-building. Each setting is distinct and over-the-top, which I feel helps add to the mystery and the viewer’s sense of unease. For example, the man running Katie’s care agency is portly and stereotypically old-fashioned – we see that in everything from his attire to his dusty old office. Yet, the movie is clearly set in the present as Katie has a modern smartphone. A pat on the back for the stage department, too, as the opening scene outside a diner features an appropriately excessive array of neon lights which dazzle brightly on a Dolby Vision-capable television.
Netflix films might have a fancy budget to help with production but they don’t appear to have the right scripts just yet. Give this one a miss – the trailer oversold it.