A few months after the tragic events at the diner Katie Franklin (Camila Mendes – Riverdale) worked at, she finds a job as a caretaker to a wealthy elderly man in his rather large, empty Chicago estate. The two grow close, but when he unexpectedly passes away and names Katie as his sole heir, she and her husband Adam (Jessie T. Usher – The Boys) are pulled into a complex web of lies, deception, and murder. If she’s going to survive, Katie will have to question everyone’s motives — even the people she loves.
Dangerous Lies‘ main plot sounds intriguing, but fails on multiple levels. Especially because the film just feels so “been there done that”. It’s not only incredibly predictable, it also just lacks anything remarkably interesting. It all starts with the plucked-out-of-Riverdale looking diner, drizzled in pink neon lights, where a robbery goes wrong. Not only does it all look like your ordinary pop music video, it also sounds like it, with songs playing every now and then during the film. After a four month time jump, our happily married couple is still worrying about their finances and the most mysterious people start entering their new lives.
Mendes might be a fan favourite as the iconic Veronia Lodge in Riverdale, but clearly lacks the skills and maturity to pull off the emotion that is necessary to lift David Golden‘s feeble script to another level and save herself out of this train wreck. Golden, who has written about ten Christmas films for Hallmark, misses the mark and stacks cliché after cliché, until the formulaic and unsatisfying ending feels like you’ve been given a lump of coal. Together with director Michael M. Scott, both are clearly in over their heads and feel a bit lost when it comes to leveling up to a genre that’s rather new to them.
If it wasn’t for Rizzoli & Isles-star Sasha Alexander‘s professional and convincing work playing detective Chesler, the supporting cast consisting of former heartthrob Cam Gigandet (The Magnificent Seven) and Jamie Chung (The Gifted) would’ve been a complete waste of energy and anyone’s time.
When trying to find some positives in a film of this kind, you go looking for the smallest things. Unfortunately the weak score and displeasing colour grading doesn’t help with setting the mood in what could’ve been a decent thriller. The only pleasant technical aspect of the film is the charming house most of the story takes place in. Hardwood floors, an authentic old stained glass skylight and spacious rooms make this film a wee bit more pleasant to look at. Not quite sure if this was an actual location or a set build for the film, but what did get annoying was the amount of times the city of Chicago had to be mentioned, as if it was some sort of bizarre product placement by the bureau of tourism.
Despite all of its weaknesses, Dangerous Lies isn’t boring. It’s one of those Netflix films that looks appealing to the masses, and it also helps to have one of your own stars play the lead in what will for sure keep the die hard Riverdale-fans out there entertained during this worldwide lockdown. As a ’90s thriller this might’ve worked, but even for the streaming giant this low budget “teen-thriller” is unacceptable.
Netflix Review – ‘Dangerous Lies’
Reviewed online, April. 30, 2020. Classification: 13+. Running time: 97 min.
PRODUCTION: A Netflix release and production. Producers: Stephanie Slack, Margret H. Huddleston. Executive producers: Michael M. Scott, Harvey Kahn.
CREW: Director: Michael M. Scott. Screenplay: David Golden. Camera: Ronald Richard. Editor: Alison Grace. Music: James Jandrisch.
WITH: Camila Mendes, Jessie T. Usher, Jamie Chung, Cam Gigandet, Sasha Alexander, Elliott Gould.