This story contains spoilers for The Lie, available to stream on Amazon Prime Video October 6.
As the title suggests, The Lie revolves around a big fat whopper — but it’s not the one you think. The first installment of Welcome to Blumhouse, a horror anthology series in four parts, follows a family as they navigate a dark and potentially devastating series of events, concealing the truth from the police, but also themselves.
Directed by Veena Sud, The Lie begins with happy home footage. We meet Kayla (Joey King), the only daughter of Rebecca (Mireille Enos) and Jay (Peter Sarsgard), and the kind of sweet little girl who seems destined for the charmed life. Fast-forward a decade or so, and things are a little more murky. Jay and Rebecca have divorced; the former copes with a series of young girlfriends, while the latter’s boyfriend is ready to move in after a business trip. Meanwhile, Kayla is sullen and remote, retreating into herself with every passing day. But is this just normal teenage stuff? Or is Kayla going through something?
We learn the answer to that question fairly early on, when Jay picks up his daughter to drive her to a ballet school retreat. On the way, the two come across Kayla’s new best friend Brittany (Devery Jacobs) at a bus stop, also heading to the same place. They offer her a ride, but things soon turn sour after Brittany starts flirting with Jay. During a pit stop in the middle of nowhere, the girls disappear into the snowy forest. As the minutes start to drag on, Jay starts to get worried. He crashes through the forest, yelling Kayla’s name — nothing. Finally, he finds her...alone. She’s sitting on the edge of a bridge looking down at the frozen, roiling water below. Brittany is gone. Kayla, distraught, confesses that she pushed her.
In a panic, Jay rushes down to search for Brittany in the water, but comes up empty. Frantic, he and Kayla make their way back to the car, and hide when a truck comes barreling down the road. They’ve made their decision: This incident will be swept under the rug. Still, they need help, so they drive to Rebecca’s office to tell her what happened. After some debate, they all agree. Brittany’s disappearance and death will be kept a secret.
Still, that secret becomes increasingly difficult to keep as Brittany’s father Sam (Cas Ifrani) comes knocking, wondering if Kayla knows anything. He initially thinks Brittany’s run away after a fight between them, but Jay and Rebecca’s strange behavior tips him off to the fact that there may be something else at play. And then there’s the fact that Kayla seems completely unperturbed by the fact that she’s just committed murder.
Things get more and more fraught when Rebecca decides the only way forward is to frame Sam for Brittany’s death. She visits her former colleagues at the District Attorney’s office with a story about how concerned she is for Kayla’s friend, whom she says often runs away after her dad abuses her physically. But that turns out to be a can of worms beyond her control – as the police start to investigate Sam, they realize that Kayla’s been hiding things too, like an email that she sent Brittany threatening to kill her after the latter stole her boyfriend.
The one upside of all this drama? Jay and Rebecca seem to be getting along for the first time in years. They even, I daresay, could be considering getting back together, brought closer by the shear stress of pretending their daughter isn’t a remorseless murderer.
Everything comes to a head when Jay realizes he’s had Brittany’s phone in his car this entire time, tucked away in the purse Kayla picked up from the riverbed. Obviously, the police track it, and start to suspect the family that seems to have all the answers for this teenager’s disappearance. In a last ditch attempt to get Sam caught, Jay and Rebecca try to bury the phone in his backyard in the middle of the night. The problem? Sam’s home, and catches them red-handed. As the two attempt to flee, Rebecca rams Sam with her car, and refuses to call an ambulance when he pleads, instead leaving him to bleed out on the abandoned street. It’s official — the entire family is complicit in not one, but two murders now.
Jay and Rebecca spend the rest of the night wrapped in each other’s arms, and wake up bright and early to clean up the car. They’re in the middle of that bloody chore when Brittany walks into the garage. Wait….that Brittany? Yes. The same teenage girl who’s supposed to be lying dead in a river.
With total nonchalance, she thanks Jay and Rebecca for understanding that Kayla lied so she could spend time with her boyfriend, and asks if they’ve seen her dad. Flabbergasted, the two parents stumble into the house, where Kayla begs for their forgiveness for lying, not knowing that they literally just killed someone to protect her.
In a flash, the titular lie is revealed: Kayla lied about pushing Brittany to cover for her friend, so they could both avoid a weekend at a ballet retreat. She was initially going to confess, but then heard her parents giggling together, and realized this could be her one chance to reunite them. Sobbing, she asks them never to leave her and the three hug tightly, as sirens blare in the background. The police are here to arrest Rebecca and Jay for the very real crime they have committed.