Being a sulky teenager living through your parents’ divorce is a tale as old as time. It’s only when you let that inner rage allow you to push your best friend off a bridge to an icy demise is when things get interesting.
It’s the jumping off point in The Lie, the new psychological thriller from horror powerhouse Blumhouse Productions. Emmy-nominated actress Joey King brings teenage Kayla’s chilling inner workings to life, aided by her once happily married parents, played by Peter Sarsgaard, and Mireille Enos. What are the lengths parents will go to protect their child? Just about anything regardless of how sinister and inconceivable, it turns out.
Two years after debuting at TIFF, The Lie landed on Amazon Prime Video as part of an eight-film package of horror films, arriving just in time for some seasonal eeriness. Although not the typical campy, fun-house release we’ve come to expect from Blumhouse, The Lie brings a horror more rooted in possibility, however far-fetched it may be.
King found Kayla’s twisted story arc an intriguing look into the teenage mind. “I think it's just really an interesting psychological observation of what being young, insecure and trusting can do to somebody,” she told NYLON over the phone during a walk around her Los Angeles neighborhood.
Kayla seems to have some sociopathic tendencies. What drew you to playing that sort of character?
I think what drew me to playing Kayla was the fact that she is quite a sweet girl, she's got such a really good heart, but then gets sucked into the idea of trusting her friends so much that she would alter her and her family's life because of it. And then I think that after that she just enjoys getting attention from her parents that she wanted so badly, even if it's negative attention so that she's willing to keep the lie going for as long as necessary. I think it's just really an interesting psychological observation of what being young, insecure and trusting can do to somebody.
What did you do to kinda get into her headspace while filming?
Our cast was amazing, and we were able to rehearse together and talk about each shoot together. It was very nice to be able to get into character with these people that I love so much, but also these characters — they're complex, they're crazy, they're wild. We still had a lot of fun on that shoot so there was no lack of laughs and dancing and good times happening, even though the subject matter was pretty dark.
What were some of these good times?
I mean just lots of times when we were hanging out together, me, Mireille, and Peter, we had so many scenes together so we would spend lot of time together when we were on set and we just enjoyed each other's company so much. Our director Veena [Sud] was also so wonderful, it was just a set full of love and welfare really.
This isn’t your typical Blumhouse horror film. Do you consider yourself a horror fan by any means?
I do appreciate horror. I am also very scared of horror, so I don't watch a lot of horror films, but one thing that I do love about this character and this story is that it isn't your straight up psychological thriller, but it's also like any person's worst nightmare and every parent's worst nightmare too. It's something that I feel like is one of those types of horror movies or thrillers that tap into something that could happen to you and to your kid, and it's really frightening.
Even though you’re scared of horror, what horror remake would you star in if given the chance?
I did The Conjuring, that was pretty awesome. I feel like something along those lines but you know what I would wanna do? Here's this really wacky, happy horror movie from years and years ago called The Abominable Dr. Phibes and one of the funniest stories I've ever seen, and I would love to do a remake of that movie.
You just need some campiness and some comedy mixed in.
Exactly. I definitely tried with my fair share of horror films and I love them, but I think if I were to jump into that genre, I wanna maybe remake one of the favorites that are oldies that were great for the time that hold up on the scare factor.
What else is on the horizon for you?
I'm about to hopefully start filming my film, Bullet Train very soon, which I'm super excited about. Honestly, just whatever happens, I don't know because of COVID [during] production. But next year you can expect some excitement with The Kissing Booth 3 release.
How has the fanfare surrounding The Kissing Booth felt?
It's insane and exciting. I mean, from the time the first film that came out and we had no idea what a success would be. The reaction after that has just been so cool to see how many people are talking about our movie and how many people see our movie. It's just like, wow. So the second movie release was just unbelievably exciting. It's been such a long time coming and I had so much fun making it and now I just cannot wait for that third one to come out.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.