True True Lie (2006) / Thriller

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably R for brutal violence, sexuality, brief nudity and language
Running time: 87 min.

Cast: Lydia Leonard, Jaime King, Jason Durr, Annabelle Wallis, Yasmine Paige, Tiffany Hannam-Daniels, Camille Solari, Diana Gherasim, Brock Everitt-Elwick, Adam Croasdell
Director: Eric Styles
Screenplay: Camille Solari, Gary Humphreys

Review published July 25, 2007

After 12 years cooped up in a mental institution stemming from a breakdown occurring from childhood events, 20-something Dana (Leonard, "Jericho") is finally released.  She is soon reunited with her two best childhood friends, sultry Nathalie (King, Two for the Money) and agreeable Paige (Wallis, Right Hand Drive), who were there during the traumatic events that saw Dana snap.  It seems they used to play a wicked game galled "true true lie", whereby they would subject unsuspecting boys to listen to three statements, guess which one is the lie or suffer a harmful fate, which may include death.  Dana remembers killing an innocent boy and burying him beneath the floorboards of the house, but her friends and doctors assure her that it's all in her head.  However, Nathalie is still up to her old manipulative tricks, pushing Dana to the brink of sanity yet again.

Although Eric Styles' (Tempo, Relative Values) direction tends to suggest that he wants to make some sort of erotic thriller out of this material, there's just very little sex about the actual story that suggests this was the best course to take.  The screenplay by Solari (Hookers Inc., The Bliss) and Humphreys (Incubus) is more rooted in an exploration of psychological terror, exploring the ways that suggestion, manipulation, and altered perceptions of reality play roles in our own fears and abilities to remember certain events.  Sometimes we might even create our own lies, although sometimes, those things everyone tells us is a lie are actually true. 

While the story itself might appear to have potential, somehow it gets stuffed into the wrong suit.  The main villainess, played with over-the-top camp by Jaime King, is so obviously riffing off of the Catherine Tramell character in Basic Instinct (smoldering bisexual blondes who get off on killing and wear no panties), that you wonder why they just didn't cast Sharon Stone herself.  However, Basic Instinct actually carried through on the promise of its deadly siren luring horny men to their deaths while True True Lie is just a cock-tease thriller that wants to keep you guessing about the nature of everything you're seeing.  Unfortunately, by painting the characters with such broad strokes, we are fairly confident that Nathalie is evil, Dana isn't crazy, and that her hunky doctor will conveniently provide the right fodder for the last unsuspecting victim to fall prey to the little coven's thrill-kill.

True True Lie sports some interesting performances, and Lydia Leonard does play a victimized woman well enough to get us to root for her side when the chips fall into place.  The editing is crisp, the music by first-time composer Dashiell Rae surprisingly good for a direct-to-video release, and it's one of those Romanian productions that doesn't always seem like it's made cheaply and without focus. 

So, let's play our game, shall we?  Two of the following statements are true and one is a lie. 

1.  If you find yourself attracted to sleazy late-night cable thrillers, True True Lie is probably better than most of those, although those with prurient interests will be disappointed that there are only brief flashes of nudity and only some very modest sexual teasing without actual consummation.

2. True True Lie is one of the best films of the year, with Oscar-caliber performances and a crackerjack screenplay that offers twists that even the most savvy of thriller junkies will not see coming.

3. I'm not wearing any panties.

Choose right and you'll have a better chance to enjoy the rest of your day.  If you choose wrong, you'll be punished by subjecting yourself to about 90 minutes of B-movie thriller badness.

Qwipster's rating:

2007 Vince Leo