To say that Faith Munro (Jenna Harrison) is having a bad week is an understatement. Having recently lost her mother to suicide and getting into a spat with her dad over it, her boyfriend Derek dumps her for her best friend. Along comes Eve Forrester (Kelly Stables), who befriends Faith and the two form a plan to get back at Derek: create a fake boyfriend named Vincent to make Derek jealous. Things sound great until Faith is arrested by Scary Spice aka Detective Maggie Thomas for Vincent's murder. Zig-a-zag-what?
Filmed in 2006 and premiering at Cannes '07, TELLING LIES is the debut feature from Antara Bhardwaj. Only now has the film made its way to DVD, and after watching the film, I can see why it probably wasn't released earlier. The film does what most thrillers don't do: fail at being a thriller.
Seriously, what happened here? The film felt like another one of those bad PG-13 teen horror flicks more than anything else. It didn't help that the entire premise could be interchangeable with a teen comedy: Girl suffers family loss, girl loses boyfriend to ex-friend, girl finds new friend, new friend helps girl exact revenge by playing up the jealousy card. The only difference is that someone gets murdered.
Now, I shouldn't be that hard on this film, since this is the first kick at the can for Bhardwaj, and yeah, it's another low budget film, but it's more aggravating than entertaining. Case in point: the script. Almost everyone's dialogue reeked of cheese , and sounded as if it came from something like MEAN GIRLS (Mel B's 'I like puzzles' spiel had me wondering what CSI episode she watched). What makes it worse is the fact the film goes along and it seems that nothing's happening, simply because there's nothing to grab your attention.
The acting was better, but not by much. Kelly Stables as Eve in particular just flat out annoyed me. She spent more time hopping around and spouting inane chatter like one of those yappy lap dogs that you'd just love to give the boot to. SHUT UP! Plus, her character is supposed to be from 'sunny California', yet she looked like the whitest person in the film (and this was in the UK). Jason Flemyng was the standout, overall. His portrayal of a father struggling with the death of his wife, while at the same time working to repair his uneasy relationship with his daughter really came through. Everyone else made it seem like it was amateur night.
But the final nail in this film's coffin is the ending, which feels tacked on and predictable, with a killer you could figure out a half hour into the movie. A good debut for a first-time director, this ain't. You'd probably be better off watching SPICEWORLD or THE RING TWO (if absolutely needed your Kelly Stables fix), because someone obviously lied and said that this was a movie worth watching.
Video: Ugly. This non-anamorphic 2.35:1 picture looks like someone taped the entire thing with a video camera in the theatre. Soft throughout and lacking detail, colours bleed in some scenes and washed out in others (particularly in the sunnier scenes) with little contrast. There's also some print damage and lots of compression artifacts to top it off.
Audio: Not much better here for this Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track. In fact, it's worse. Low budget be damned, the amount of distortion in the bass (the overall mix is too loud) and the painfully obvious use of stock sounds (everyone walks like they're wearing heels) makes this downright frustrating.
The screener disc that I had lacked a proper main menu, chapter stops and extras. The retail disc isn't much better, as it's bare bones as well. Looks as though I found another beer coaster!
Another teen thriller to throw on the pile that lacks a proper script, proper acting, and a good story, TELLING LIES is one film that would appeal to only the PG-13 crowd of fans who liked the PROM NIGHT remake. Even then, odds are folks would be sleeping 20 minutes in.