While Joey King is no stranger to the horror genre, Blumhouse’s The Lie, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video on Oct. 6, is a new chapter for her — unlike her previous horror movies, there’s nothing supernatural about it. In the film, King stars as Kayla, a teenage girl still reeling from her parents divorce who makes a lethal mistake, which ultimately costs her everything she holds dear. However, The Lie isn’t just Kayla’s story; it’s also about the extreme lengths that parents — played here by Peter Sarsgaard and Mireille Enos — will go to protect their children.
When it comes to horror, King is typically the victim rather than the “evil” mastermind. With The Conjuring and Wish Upon, there is something supernaturally sinister at work, but with The Lie, things are much more realistic. “This is not the typical horror movie,” King told POPSUGAR about what drew her to the project. “It’s every person’s, and parents’, worst nightmare that this could happen to them or someone they know. What drew me so much to the character and to this film is how misleading it all was.” Misleading is certainly the right word as Kayla’s family spends most of the movie diverting attention from the fact their daughter supposedly murdered her friend.
“I really loved how complex my character Kayla is and how the audience struggles so much with whether to have empathy or to consider her a monster,” King said. This isn’t the first time audiences have struggled with what to feel about one of King’s characters. Both The Act and The Lie center on a seemingly innocent girl that gets swept up in the hopes of a better life; albeit Gypsy is manipulated by her mother while Kayla just wants to get her parents back together. “Kayla is more relatable in a sense. When going through a hard time, even if she gets negative attention from her parents, she still seeks that attention, and acting out is something that’s not that unusual.” While The Act ends with the murder of Gypsy’s mother, in The Lie, the parents commit a murder of their own.
What really gives The Lie its unsettling feel are the masterful performances of Sarsgaard and Enos as Kayla’s parents. You really feel for them as they try to reconcile the daughter they knew with the Kayla who exists postmurder. “I really just loved them. They’re so wonderful, kind, and just hilarious,” King said about working with the pair. “When you’re filming in a crazy cold climate with pretty intense scenes, it’s nice to have people who are really fun-loving and wonderful around.” Their offscreen connection translates into a realistic family onscreen, making the gut-wrenching twist that more terrifying at the end. “Her parents commit murder and it’s all her fault, and now she’s going to be an orphan because of it. It’s probably the most horrifying realization.”
The Lie is just the latest example of how Blumhouse takes real fears and turns them into an unimaginable horror, with King’s personal favorite being Get Out. “It’s such a clever take on such an important issue, yet remaining just the most entertaining, scary, intense movie you’ve ever seen. It’s one of my favorite horror movies of all time.” Knowing that Blumhouse is such a powerhouse when it comes to important issues allowed King to make the role her own, while still staying true to the message. “If I feel like I’m stepping into something that doesn’t feel like I can make it my own, then I don’t really want to do it. It has to have some sort of grounding element and a foundation that makes them unique to any other character I’ve played before.”