Last night, Prime Video and Blumhouse held an online premiere for two seperate films at the same time, and The UnderSCENE was invited to last night’s premiere. Andres attended Black Box, and Alex attended The Lie. Doors opened at 9pm (or 6pm PST), and there was rotating slides of frames from the film, like there would be during an early screening or premiere. After 30 minutes, the film began. And then there was an online interactive escape room that included tarot card readings with celebrities (Ruby Rose, Malcolm-Jamal Warner made appearances). It was such a fun experience, and would have been great if it was possible to attend IRL, but from the comfort of our living rooms, with guests from many cities, it made for a lot of fun.
Here are our two reviews.
The film opens with Nolan (Mamoudou Athie) holding his daughter Ava and being asked if he ever plans on letting her go. He tears up and smiles, it’s clear that he won’t. It’s this relationship – Nolan’s and Ava (played later incredibly by Amanda Christine) that makes this film work so well. You really buy into their relationship, and the struggles that they eventually go through. After this moment, we go to the present, where Nolan has gotten into a car accident and has lost his wife, and his memory. So we see the struggle of Ava trying to help him remember who he once was. It’s a very moving story, of not only being a single father, but also a Black single father that isn’t showcased a lot in film.
Black Box feels like an episode of Black Mirror in the best way possible. After Nolan was in the accident, he was technically braindead, and then one day, he miraculously woke up.These are the reasons that he has lost his memory. Nolan then goes through experimental treatments to try and recover his memory. These are the moments that definitely feel like they’ve come out of Black Mirror.
There are twists and turns that I did not see coming, but neither was the overflowing of emotion. I was somewhat surprised at how emotional I began getting during the film, and I think that lies in the relationship of Nolan and Ava, or just father and daughter. I need to reiterate, Amanda Christine is so incredible in this. So sweet and loving. I highly recommend catching Black Box on Prime Video today.
At this point in cinema, we’ve seen the moral dilemma of how far a parent would go to protect their child many, many times. I would say most of the time it’s done well enough that you root for the characters to get away and be at peace with their families, even if they may have been the cause of the issue. But sometimes you get a film like The Lie that has you actively rooting against the protagonists and when the question of how far would you go is posed, the clear answer is too damn far.
Veena Sud’s (The Stranger) film The Lie is a simple premise that follows a teenage girl played by Joey King (The Conjuring, The Act) who is implicated in the disappearance of her best friend. We then watch as her parents go to extreme lengths to cover up whatever she may or may not have done. This all leads us to an hour and a half of watching two adults make awful and completely stupid mistakes one after the other and it truly does get to the point where you don’t even care who did what; you just want these idiots to fail in the end. This story is just so irritating because every little thing that happens, they brought on themselves. It also doesn’t help that they’re all just so unlikeable, especially the teen daughter. She is a complete sociopathic brat that in the beginning you wish she wasn’t the main character so you didn’t have to be put through her screen time, but by the end she was so laughably awful that I just decided to sit back and enjoy her demise.
Now, as much I disliked the film there are some saving graces; well not save worthy but there are some good aspects. The look of the film from the shots, color grading and visuals are very pleasing to the eyes. Veena Sud is a great director that has done awesome work, this year’s Quibi series The Stranger for example. On top of that she had an incredible cast with Peter Sarsgaard (Garden State, Kinsey), Mireille Enos (The Killing) and Joey King that despite a lousy script and annoying story, give it their all and turn in excellent performances. Real talk here, the cast was the clear selling point with this film and I can not see this being talked about without these three at the forefront.
The Lie is an uncomfortable film that I will not be checking out again. With that said, I think others who love dark mysteries may find more redeeming qualities than I was able to so this isn’t the worst option for a random watch. I also have to mention that even though I didn’t enjoy most of the film, the ending is pretty twisted and actually caught me completely off guard which is more than you can say for many other mysteries. It hits Amazon Prime today so if you happen upon this film, I hope you enjoy it more than I did.