Years ago, Rebecca (Mireille Enos) and Jay (Peter Sarsgaard) were very much in love and had a daughter named Kayla. An opening montage of archive homemade video footage shows how they've doted on her since birth.

Fast-forwarding to the present day, Rebecca and Jay are no longer together and Kayla (Joey King) is now fifteen. We meet her as she sits in the back of Rebecca's car being driven to Jay's house, where he will have lunch with her and then complete the journey taking her to a four-night ballet camp retreat which she really doesn't want to attend. Rebecca drives, with her new partner Greg (Alan Van Sprang) sat in the passenger seat beside her. Greg is on the verge of moving in with Rebecca at this moment in time. He's also seen as the voice of reason whenever Rebecca hectors Kayla, perhaps because she's over-protective - or maybe she's just a nag.

Rebecca drops Greg off at work first, and then deposits Kayla with Jay. There appears to be some chemistry remaining between Rebecca and Jay, but once his new girlfriend Trini (Dani Kind) shows up the atmosphere is soon soured.

Following pancakes together, Jay and Kayla set off on the remainder of their journey to this unwanted retreat in Gresham. Along the way, they spy Kayla's friend Brit (Devery Jacobs) waiting at a bus stop with a bruise on her face. She's also headed for the "stupid ballet thing" in Gresham, and so they offer to give her a ride.

Within minutes Brit has started talking flirtatiously with musician Jay, much to the visible annoyance of Kayla. Brit asks Jay to stop the car telling him, with a mischievous glint in her eye, that she needs to pee. He stops and she gets out, Kayla joining her as they walk into the nearby trees for privacy.

The girls don't return and so, after a few minutes, a disconcerted Jay wanders into the snow-covered woods in search of them. Hearing Kayla scream, he races to discover her sat quivering on a bridge overlooking a rapidly flowing river below. "We were just messing about" Kayla sobs as she shakily intimates that Brit fell into the water. Panic-stricken, Jay runs down the riverbank and jumps into the water hoping to find her. Kayla follows, finding Brit's pink handbag on the side of the water and picking it up.

Unable to locate Brit's body, the pair stumble trembling back to Jay's car, hiding as a lone truck speeds past them. Other than that, they are alone and are fairly sure they haven't been seen. Which is crucial as it happens, because Kayla has a confession: Brit was being a bitch and, in a moment of madness, Kayla deliberately pushed her into the water.

Bugger. Jay returns a traumatised Kayla to Rebecca's house. Following a protracted episode of hiding the truth by claiming the girl's not well, the pair eventually come clean and clue Rebecca in on what really happened.

As you can imagine, a lot of soul searching between Rebecca and Jay ensues. Their daughter has confessed to a crime which no-one else knows about, and there were no witnesses. Do they notify the authorities ... or close ranks and protect their child? I doubt I'll be surprising anyone by revealing that they quickly decide upon the latter option (don't worry, I have a policy to never give spoilers past the halfway mark of a film; at this point, we're 25 minutes into a 95-minute feature).

So, Jay determines that the new truth is that asthmatic Kayla fell sick on the way to ballet camp; she rested at his house while he nipped out to his office (just in case the speeding truck driver recalls passing his car) to grab an inhaler for her. Rebecca is reticent at first but ultimately agrees to go along with the lie.

It's a lie that becomes increasingly difficult to stick to. Especially when Brit's dad Sam (Cas Anvar) turns up at Rebecca's door, jovially suggesting that his girl and Kayla have a done a bunk from ballet camp together. Upon learning that Kayla has been kept at home all weekend because she's been sick, Sam then worries that he may have put Brit in danger by refusing to give her a lift to camp following an argument, and making her take the bus instead. He leaves his work number with Rebecca so she can pass it on to Kayla, who he really wants to hear from, and then leaves. Once he's gone, Rebecca sobs uncontrollably. She's clearly struggling with this - repeated calls from an anxious Sam don't help.

Jay moves back into the family home temporarily, sleeping on the settee. Something Kayla seems delighted by.

Meanwhile, Kayla doesn't seem overly concerned by what she's done. Jay insists she's in shock. But when she refuses point blank to return calls from an increasingly distraught Sam, this prompts the worried dad to call round the house and challenge her directly. When Jay shoos him away, Sam smells a rat and insists he's going to the police.

Time for Rebecca and Jay to concoct a counter attack: another lie, capitalising on the fact that Sam had argued with Brit on the day of her disappearance, and the fact that she was sporting a bruised face when last seen ...

THE LIE is one of eight films produced by Blumhouse Films to be premiered exclusively on Amazon's Prime streaming service. Each film is described as a "spine-chilling genre" offering and is to be premiered on Prime in the month of October (naturally). The other initial titles in this production line include NOCTURNE, EVIL EYE and BLACK BOX.

Shot in Canada, THE LIE has an appropriately bleak, icy aesthetic which marries agreeably with the downbeat storyline. Snowy landscapes are always an attractive cinematic proposition; they certainly are here, abetted in no small way by Peter Wunstorf's considered cinematography.

Directed by Veena Sud, she also wrote the screenplay - which is a reworking of Sebastian Ko's celebrated 2015 thriller WIR MONSTER. Having not had the privilege of seeing the original, I can't draw comparisons. However, taken on its merit THE LIE handles the human side of its drama quite deftly. Aided by solid performances from Sarsgaard (looking eerily like Larry Fessenden at times) and Enos as the shielding parents who make wrong decisions at every turn, and a committed turn from King as the troubled albeit conniving daughter, the script played out credibly for the most part for me. Anvar's take on the fraught father of a missing child, subsequently accused by the police of mistreating her, deserves attention too.

Pacing is adroit, and there's definitely an intriguing drama at the core here which is sufficient to keep its audience engaged. And yet, as a whole, THE LIE comes across as a little anaemic. A tad pedestrian. It's all well-made and ably efficient, but a little perfunctory at the same time. Which perhaps explains why the film has been sat on Blumhouse's shelf since 2018, and is only now seeing the light of day via the far more suitable platform of streaming. It's far too low-key to have kept its head above water in cinemas.

Things do escalate during the second half as the world threatens to come crashing in around the core family, and they resort to evermore desperate measures to keep their secret just that. There's a twist in the tale, of course. It's a frankly ludicrous one, with an explanation behind it that doesn't carry any convincing weight whatsoever.

As for the characters Greg and Trini ... they serve no purpose whatsoever. They're briefly introduced early on and never seen or heard from again. It all feels a little bit lazy.

No matter. THE LIE is streaming freely for Prime subscribers in its uncut form (there's no controversial content) at a running time of 95 minutes and 5 seconds in length. Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, it looks great: sharp, clean and as colourful as the purposefully muted palettes allow.

Audio is presented in a flawless English stereo playback. Optional subtitles are available in English for the hard-of-hearing, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Italian, Netherlands and Norwegian.

THE LIE was okay while it lasted, I suppose, but will not be remembered for long.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Blumhouse Films