Dangerous Lies is exactly the film that you expect it to be and then some.
It’s the type thriller that are a dime a dozen nowadays on the Lifetime Network, but which Netflix have decided to try and corner a market in themselves. If they’re making a killing making Christmas rom coms then it’s not really a surprise that they’ve decided to go after the domestic thriller market. They’re also clearly trying to aim for a large demographic given the casing of Camila Mendes in the lead role.
One of the stars of Riverdale, the ridiculous popular modern interpretation of Archie Comics that started off so brilliantly and which then not so much jumped the shark as skied over it while riding a fridge fired by the blast of a nuclear bomb, Dangerous Lies has a gloss to it that makes it feel very much ‘Un Film De Netflix’, although it’s obviously directed by a person, in this case Michael Scott, although sadly not The Office character, and equally sadly we’re presented with a film nowhere near as entertaining or as ingenious as Threat Level Midnight.
The type of movie that Dangerous Lies is offering is one that evokes a feeling of nostalgia for a time when Hollywood produced this type of stuff on a decent budget. The manner in which Hollywood has opted for one of two options in terms of how to budget movies (low or substantially larger) means that middle budgeted fare such as relationship dramas and domestic thrillers are few and far between on a cinematic canvas anymore and have been relegated to the realm of Lifetime, or as is the case here, showcases for the stars of Netflix’s most popular shows. (Yes, Riverdale is a CW series, but its international distribution is handled by Netflix, hence it’s massive popularity beyond America).
The 90’s was of course a heyday for these types of movies, that ranged from yuppies in peril thrillers such as Pacific Heights and The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, to domestic stalker narratives such as Single White Female and, the most infamous example of the genre which kind of kick-started the trend, Fatal Attraction.
There were a lot of knock-offs of course, usually straight to video or made for television movies that ranged from dull and safe to explicitly sexual and usually with titles such as Dangerous Desire, or Fatal Deceptions, and which usually featured good looking actors, maybe one or two well known faces starring for ten or fifteen minutes and picking up the check and which usually resulted in a high body count and maybe a sex scene or two, which the leading actress walked around in her underwear, usually in an argument with their significant other.
Dangerous Lies does all of that, although it plays more in the safer realm of a made for TV movie than anything too adult. There are no sex scenes, while any violence stays within the PG-13-friendly level of impact.
Elliott Gould and Sasha Alexander show up, Gould charming as the lovable house owner whose death kickstarts the plot while Alexander brings some gravitas to her role as the cop who shows up like Columbo to make life difficult for our protagonists, but other than that, it really is business as usual.
Every twist and storytelling beat you expect to come up does; Mendes and Jessie Usher play a married couple who survive a robbery at Mendes’ waitress job at the start of the movie (and this seems important but it never really goes anywhere). Four months later she’s working for Gould’s character as his carer, a real estate guy comes around looking to buy the place, Gould dies, Mendes and Usher get the house and all sorts of stuff regarding a dead body, diamonds, cheques, money and an ill-timed will come into play.
It’s glossily filmed for sure, but it very much does exactly what it says on the tin to quote a famous British paint commercial, and you can see everywhere it’s going to go right from the off.
It’s not unwatchable, it’s got a certain cheesy level of fun, but it’s also bland and somewhat forgettable and never does anything to surprise you or shock you. You watch it, it ends, and it’s memory scatters away instantly.
It’s that sort of movie.
Dangerous Lies is available to stream on Netflix.