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Bag of Lies (2024) Review

How far would you go to save the life of a loved one? That’s the question facing Matt (Patrick Taft, Under the Surface, The Ghosting of Elise Montgomery) at the start of Bag of Lies. His wife Claire (Brandi Botkin, Mutilator 2, Wicked Ones) has terminal cancer and has decided to stop subjecting herself to the brutal effects of chemo, which was simply delaying the inevitable. He on the other hand can’t deal with the idea of her death.

In desperation, he makes a deal with Al (Terry Tocantins, Scream of the Bikini, Love and Loathing at the Ass Lamp Lounge) who possess what he claims is a magic bag that can save her. All it takes is a simple ritual, wait three days and then follow three simple rules afterwards. Don’t talk to it. Don’t look at it. Don’t touch it. Seems simple enough, right? So did don’t feed it after midnight and look how that turned out.

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It isn’t long before Matt is hearing voices, not just the kind that whisper in the darkness, but from Bluetooth speakers, and by way of phone calls from unknown callers. But it doesn’t stop there, as Claire’s condition improves, he begins seeing things as well. Is it his imagination, or something more sinister?

Director David Andrew James co-wrote Bag of Lies with Nick Laughlin (Grandma’s Memoirs, Big Brother) and Joe Zappa (The Ladies Next Door, Clever Girl) and they didn’t choose the most original of starting points. People resorting to the dark arts to save, or bring back, a loved one is a common plot.

The makers of Bag of Lies take a somewhat different approach than usual, however. It’s obvious that Matt has something in his past that’s eating at him, something that seems connected in some way to what he’s going through now. The viewer can see it in the way he suddenly becomes irritable and snaps at Claire and his cousin Harold (John Wells, They See You, Arena Wars).

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But is it also responsible for the voices he hears and the apparition that seems to haunt him? Is it all in his mind, or has he gotten himself involved in something supernatural? Perhaps something that wants more than just a simple ritual in return for saving his wife?

For most of its running time, Bag of Lies does a neat job of balancing the two possibilities. It’s not until the final act that the film reveals just what is going on. Unfortunately, it fumbles slightly here, coming to a resolution that loses points for being predictable in content and execution. It’s well executed and features some effectively simple makeup effects, but you’ll be feeling a bit of déjà vu.

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Up until then, however, Bag of Lies delivers a good mix of creepy vibes and jump scares, anchored by good performances from the small cast. Much of the film rests on Patrick Taft’s ability to walk a fine line between appearing to be haunted and possibly losing his sanity as he watches cancer slowly and painfully take Claire. There’s good chemistry between Taft and Brandi Botkin who plays Claire, and she delivers a performance that’s convincing as a woman trying to deal with her impending death and trying to figure out what is going on with her husband.

Low on effects and gore but quite well stocked with chills, Bag of Lies is an above average effort that should satisfy those looking for a genre film centred more around its characters than monsters. It’s just too bad it couldn’t quite pull off the ending.

Epic Pictures released Bag of Lies to theatres via its Dread label on March 29th. It will be available on Digital and VOD Platforms on April 2nd.

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