Written by: Matt Patti | April 30th, 2020
Dangerous Lies (Michael Scott, 2020) 2 out of 4 stars.
It seems that there are many murder mysteries being released lately that center around a wealthy elderly person’s death and their money/estate. In fact, the premise and early set-up of Dangerous Lies seems almost identical to that of Knives Out (Rian Johnson, 2019). There’s something intriguing about mysterious deaths of wealthy people who have controversial wills and the recipients – or lack thereof – of these wills. Dangerous Lies is another interesting tale of such happenings, but unfortunately doesn’t pull it off as well as similar films have done.
Dangerous Lies focuses on Katie (Camila Mendes, The CW’s Riverdale) and Adam (Jessie T. Usher, Amazon’s The Boys), a young married couple who are struggling to make ends meet. Katie works as a caregiver to a wealthy elderly man, Leonard (Elliott Gould, Ocean’s Eleven) who lives in a grand, beautiful house. When Leonard dies, Katie is surprised to find that in his will he has left everything to Katie, including his home. Ecstatic, Katie and Adam move into the large house. However, authorities begin to question the logic of Katie being Leonard’s beneficiary, and investigate if she or Adam had anything to do with his death. Worse, Katie and Adam get a strange, creepy visitor at the house who is determined to purchase the home, and seemingly won’t take no for an answer. Soon, Katie and Adam are drawn into a web of deception, confusion, and danger. Can Adam and Katie finally live a good life without having to worry about money, or will the strange events surrounding them make their life even worse?
The film presents an interesting premise from the start and is enjoyable to follow along for the sake of a good ol’ mystery. The director does a good job of misleading the audience and diverting their attention to suspects that seem genuinely shady and perhaps guilty. There are many twists and turns that keep the viewer guessing, and the twist at the end of the film, while rushed and exposition-driven, is a clever one. The whole premise and situation that the characters are in is the film’s strong point and its driving force.
Unfortunately, the mystery aspect is one of the only strong points of the film. The rest of the film is largely forgettable, unrealistic, and frustrating. Katie and Adam’s struggle to pay bills is not as sympathetic as it should be. There isn’t a compelling, emotional reason why they are in the situation they’re in, and it just comes off as another couple with financial problems. Furthermore, Katie and Adam themselves, especially Adam, act so selfishly that it is sometimes hard to get behind them. Besides their driving need for money, there isn’t much else to our two lead characters and they end up being quite forgettable and plain.
Where the film also struggles is in realism. Many things are simply far too easy to accomplish in the film, with little consequences. Things are overlooked or simply not explored at all by the police, characters accomplish things super quickly, and some logistics of events that occur just make no sense. There are characters that show up at Leonard’s house almost as if they were an apparition walking through walls, with no one hearing them come in and no apparent struggle getting inside. The film also relies on exposition far too often and has one large, unresolved plot device that leads to nowhere, seemingly only existing to get the audience to question one character’s motives.
Overall, Dangerous Lies is an inferior “wealthy man murder mystery” when compared to its predecessors. There’s some enjoyment to get in the film from its premise and the twists and turns of the plot, and it could be a fine disposable film to enjoy on a Friday night with family. However, there is nothing really special about the film at all, and most viewers will likely forget it soon after watching.